|Blackheath – 1st Team||15|
|6th Feb 16||2:00 pm|
Blackheath – 1st Team
Greens and Yellows edge out Red and Black
After an unbeaten run lasting nine matches, and which had kept Blackheath in second position in National League One, the Club’s promotion push found itself stuttering in the rain and mud of a grim Yorkshire Dales afternoon.
In a reverse pattern to many of their recent games, Blackheath built themselves a 12-0 lead only for it to be whittled away, and finally overturned with just seven minutes remaining, by a determined and fired-up Wharfedale side fighting at the other end of the division.
However, it won’t just be the surrender of a healthy lead that will grate. Errors and poor decision-making certainly made their contribution, but the four sin-binnings in a display by all three match officials that lacked empathy, occurred in such bewildering circumstances that, by the end, no one was quite sure just how many times Mr Blain had actually awarded a yellow card.
But it should never have come to that. Two line-out steals thwarted Wharfedale’s early forays towards the Blackheath goal-line, and as first Simon Whatling, then Markus Burcham and Tom Chapman made progress upfield on the heavy and sapping Threshfield surface, the ruck was set from which Scott Wright dived across for a converted try.
Then, as two penalties took the visitors to within five-metres of the Dalesmen’s goal-line, Dave Allen was driven across, and with a dozen points in the bag on 17 minutes, Blackheath looked well set.
Just as quickly, however, the tide turned and would remain largely Green for the remainder of the contest. A mistake in defence gave Wharfedale the field position from which Blackheath went off their feet for Jamie Guy to strike his first penalty, the outside half following up with a second moments later, to reduce the deficit to just six points.
With half-time approaching and the ascendancy increasing, blind-side Jack Barnard got behind a Blackheath scrum five-metres from the goal-line to claim possession and score, a moment that also saw Tom Ellis dispatched, and with Kieron Scutt following soon after for collapsing, the visitors were destined to start the second period with a slender one-point lead and just thirteen men on the field.
That number was soon reduced to twelve as Burcham’s innocuous knock-on was turned into a yellow card following the intervention of the assistant referee, and later in the period, Blackheath would be hampered again with the loss of Whatling for retaliatory action after two successive high tackles from Greens’ scrum- half James Doherty.
Nevertheless, it was Blackheath who scored next through the boot of Freddie Gabbitass, quickly cancelled out by Guy (the only time, ironically, that Wharfedale scored when the opposition were depleted) leaving the score at 14-15 in favour of the visitors, but the shape of the second half was one of relentless attack from Dalesmen met by resilient defence.
Time and again possession was turned over, only to be handed back again through unforced errors and kicks which were either charged-down or gobbled up by Greens’ excellent full-back Harry Bullough who simply returned play back to Club territory.
Eventually, in the 73rd minute, the red and black line was breached, as Cameron Hudson fly-hacked through the defensive line, the outside-centre controlling the ball neatly on the sticky surface before flopping down for the try. Unlike their last trip to Yorkshire in November, when a last-ditch score had broken the hearts of Hull Ionians, there was to be no response, sparking emotions from a home crowd as much of relief as celebration.
Tries: Barnard, Hudson
Pens: Guy 3
Tries: Wright, Allen