|Blackheath – 1st Team||19|
|19th Mar 16||3:00 pm||National League One||2015|
Blackheath – 1st Team
Cameron sets up Albion to down Club
So nearly a dramatic twist at the end of an enthralling contest which appeared to be all but done when, ten minutes from time, Albion full-back Matt Shepherd slotted the penalty which put his side eight points ahead.
Had the score remained at 20-12, it would not have unfairly reflected a match where the hosts’ superior set-piece had kept them in front since the end end of the opening quarter, but Blackheath, despite the premature loss of Aston Croall and Geoff Griffiths, refused to ease up and, attacking again, saw Tom Chapman pick up loose ball from a charge-down to scamper across for a converted score and set up an extraordinary climax.
With Tom Baldwin at number-eight leading the charge out of defence in a drawn out final play, Plymouth eventually conceded the penalty, but at 45 metres out, and only five in from the touch-line, Freddie Gabbitass’ kick, in front of the 1,680 crowd at Brickfields Recreation Ground (who could have exhibited a little more respect towards their former full-back!), though well-struck, faded at the last and fell just wide.
‘Plymouth played a very physical and attritional game,’ said Blackheath backs’ coach Mike Friday. ‘Their pack was strong but the main difference between the sides was scrum-half Cameron Setter. He was exceptional and was the catalyst for their scoring chances.’
Sure enough, after a scoreless opening 20 minutes, it was Setter’s kick down the blind-side following a line-out close to half-way that broke the deadlock, as inside-centre Tom Bedford fed flanker Nile Dacres to rumble over for a converted score. A lovely break through the midfield by fly-half Billy Searle was spoilt by a poor final pass, but Albion kept up the pressure until the visitors were penalised for in at the side and Shepherd extended the advantage to ten points.
Blackheath, who came under huge pressure at the scrum, saw their best period of pressure thwarted as ball was twice turned over in the maul but, out of almost nothing, Simon Whatling and Isaac Ajayi (making an impressive debut along with Shaun English) send Gabbitass through the centre, before Griffiths and Croall combined down the left flank for the latter to crash over. Gabbitass found an excellent conversion from out wide into the stiff and bitterly cold wind, and the gap was a mere three points at the break.
It was back to ten in the 48th minute as Croall left the field, and Albion opted for a five-metre scrum to set the platform for second-row Dan Collier to muscle over the try-line, but Blackheath once again found a response. Space was too tight for Jack Walsh to exploit a three-man overlap, and Griffiths was caught short in the opposite corner, but as Albion carried ball across their own goal-line to concede the five-metre put-in, play swept across field for Dan Hamilton to glide over out wide with the replacement wing’s first touch of the ball, Gabbitass’ conversion this time striking the upright.
Albion would have moved clear again on the hour had Dacres’ rather obvious stamp on a prone Blackheath player not reversed a penalty in front of the posts, but an off-side in the 70th minute did allow Shepherd to extend the advantage, before Chapman’s late try added the drama to the closing stages.
‘We showed tremendous spirit and character to keep ourselves in the contest and I’m massively proud of the boys today,’ continued Friday. ‘It’s disappointing to lose another tight match and see our challenge fall away, but we’re moving in the right direction in terms of preparation for next season.’
Blackheath take another break over Easter and return to action on 2nd April with the visit of Hull Ionians to Rectory Field.
Tries: Dacres, Collier
Conv: Shepherd 2
Pens: Shepherd 2
Tries: Croall, Hamilton, Chapman
Conv: Gabbitass 2
Referee: Veryan Boscawen