|Blackheath – 1st Team||20|
|23rd Jan 16||3:00 pm||National League One||2015|
|108 Charlton Road, London SE7 7EY, UK|
Blackheath – 1st Team
Park passed by as Club cruise on!
A thrilling, hard-fought contest and, not for the first time in this campaign, Blackheath needed to claw their way back from an early deficit. However, as the game progressed the Club’s ascendancy grew, leaving them as the stronger side at the finish and enabling them to complete a season double against their old rivals from along the South Circular.
Nevertheless, it was Rosslyn Park who started in more lively fashion and who set the pace in the opening minutes. An early line-out steal launched a move up field at pace, and on seven minutes the Roehampton side claimed their only points of the match as their pack drove forward at a five-metre scrum and referee Andrew Jackson awarded a penalty try.
Blackheath’s first assault from a drive off a line-out ended in a turnover, typifying their first period against a well-organised Park defence which denied them quick ball, and a break from close to his own goal-line by Owain James saw wing Dave Vincent successfully hunt the Club full-back down to make a fine tackle and deny a score, but with the hosts increasingly dominating possession the penalties eventually came.
On 25 minutes Freddie Gabbitass made his first strike, after Park were penalised for holding on, and soon followed up with a second for a late tackle on James to leave his side trailing by a single point at the interval.
Within three minutes of the re-start Blackheath took the lead, as Park came up off-side in front of their posts. And as the hosts increasingly upped the tempo with their backs making inroads and Dave Allen outstanding at open-side, turning over possession and making good yardage, the Club fly-half added a fourth strike, Park guilty of holding on in the tackle once again, for a 12-7 advantage.
Still the red and white defensive line held, even when a lovely pass from Simon Whatling on the hour sent Geoff Griffiths on a weaving break only for possession to be lost forward. However, eventually the pressure told and the breach came as in the 64th minute, a five-metre scrum close to the Park goal-line saw Jack Walsh send a long pass out wide for Griffiths to dive across in the left corner for the wing’s third try of the season.
Both sides had moments of domination at the set-scrum (usually on opposition put-in) but as the game moved towards its conclusion, and Ben Cooper made his Club debut from the bench at tight-head, Blackheath’s control was total, leaving Park pinned in their own half of the field.
Finally, as the visitors lost loose-head Mark Lilley to the sin-bin for collapsing a twenty-metre drive, and then conceded a strike against the head, Gabbitass landed a fifth penalty with the last kick of the game to complete a 15-point personal haul, making him second-top National League One points scorer, and nailing down victory.
‘We expected Rosslyn Park to come and play hard and make a statement after our victory there in October,’ said Club director of rugby Colin Ridgway.
‘But we had spoken about the need to ride the storm and absorb early pressure, and although we failed to convert some first half chances we became increasingly dominant and strangled the life out of them.’
‘I’m really proud of the boys today.’
Pens: Gabbitass 5
Tries: Penalty try