|Blackheath – 1st Team||12|
|27th Feb 16||3:00 pm||National League One||2015|
|Northern Echo Arena|
Blackheath – 1st Team
Finishing skills amiss as Club fall short
A fine game, tight throughout, fiercely contested, and one to wipe away the memory of the Club’s only previous visit to the Northern Echo Arena when they were thumped 50-10 on a foggy afternoon in November 2014.
Nevertheless, the solitary bonus point Blackheath claimed for their efforts on this occasion leaves them twelve short of Richmond, and although they have the potential to make ground on the National League One leaders when they host them at Rectory Field next Saturday, February has left their promotion chances, which looked so promising at the start of the month, hanging by the slenderest of threads.
It will rankle too, because against a DMP side in fine form after a twelve match winning spree, only interrupted by their 14-7 defeat at the Athletic Ground a week ago, they had ample opportunity, not least in the latter half of a scoreless second period.
Two attacking line-out chances went astray as the lifters failed to get their man in the air on one occasion, and then the put-in conceded for accidental off-side in the maul. An off-load from Tom Stradwick fell loose also, after the Club number-eight had done the hard-work to break the defensive line just short of the opposition’s uprights, and Freddie Gabbitass, who remains at the head of the National League One scoring statistics, missed a penalty attempt from a distance and angle the fly-half would normally expect to nail off a firm surface with little wind.
In contrast, the Club had made the most of their chances in the first period.
Tom Ellis powered over the goal-line from second phase ball following a line-out on eight minutes, before DMP, who had the better of the middle part of the opening half, set up camp on the Club goal-line after blind-side Simon Uzokwe made a strong break only halted by Sam Eydmann’s try-saving tackle.
With Tom Baldwin off to the sin-bin, a solid scrum base saw scrum-half Matt Walsh move blind and ride the tackle to score and, four minutes later, in a play which began from the half-way, left-wing Jamie Barnard broke a tackle in the Club midfield to glide across, both tries converted by fly-half Warren Seals for 14-12 lead.
However, as the half-time interval approached, Eydmann pierced the Durham club’s defence and fine hands from Ellis saw Dave Allen illegally stopped five metres short. This time, with DMP reduced in number as centre Chris Auld was despatched for ten minutes, it was the visitors’ turn to opt for the close-range set-scrum, and as ball was played left, Hamish Graham found an excellent pick-up off his toes to send fellow wing Tom Chapman across, Gabbitass ironically converting with his toughest kick of the match to leave the visitors two points adrift at the break.
It wasn’t only Blackheath who had chances in the second period. The third quarter saw the Club having to defend stoically as DMP went through numerous phases, and then with time edging away, and the siege lifted at the other end of the field, a two-man overlap and certain try was only thwarted by Chapman’s intercept running backwards, the wing spoiling his excellent work a little by trying to break out of defence and losing possession.
Despite all efforts, however, the two-point gap remained locked, leaving Blackheath on the wrong end of a narrow scoreline for the third time in as many away matches.
Darlington Mowden Park
Tries: Walsh, Barnard
Conv: Seals 2
Tries: Ellis, Chapman