Priory Park has not proved a fruitful venue for Blackheath in the past.
Their three previous visits have not only ended in three defeats, but have generated three decidedly poor performances. For 50 minutes, this match was heading in the same direction until Blackheath finally found some continuity and upped a couple of gears to break their duck.
The statistics will show an emphatic five try to one victory, but that disguises the fact that Macclesfield, rooted to the bottom of National League One and battling with only a faint hope of survival, led at the interval, and deservedly so, despite having a man in the sin-bin for ten minutes.
Early signs were promising. Geoff Griffiths and Richard Windsor looked to break open the Macclesfield defence with some strong running, and Mike Canty injected pace from full-back throughout. However, spilt ball in the 12th minute led to a counter with Greg Newton haring down the left touch-line and, although caught by Canty just short, the Blues’ left-wing produced a beautiful off-load for full-back Matt O’Regan to score.
Ryan Squires’ upending by tight-head Will Robinson resulted in the penalty to touch from which Blackheath drove Dave Allen across against a depleted pack, but while the visitors failed to land a successful kick at goal all afternoon, Blues’ fly-half Tom Eaton added two penalties to his earlier conversion to push the hosts further ahead.
Tom Carlisle, on the other hand, conjured up some useful tactical kicking, and a penalty for holding on enabled the Club fly-half to put his side into position to drive Allen across for a second time from close-range, but a strike against the head in their own twenty-two saw Blackheath defending desperately before loose ball was snapped up (by Allen of course!) and cleared to leave the score at 13-10 in favour of the hosts at the interval.
The second period started equally uninspiringly with Blackheath conceding possession twice in the opening moments, but in 54th minute the game turned in the visitors’ favour. With Chris O’Neill making some useful breaks in midfield, the ball was retained through a number of phases, but with the tight Macclesfield defence refusing to give way, Carlisle produced a neat chip to put Squires across in the left corner.
Eaton might have restored the lead for the Cheshire side, instead opting for field position from a kickable penalty, and intelligent play from Blues’ scrum-half Joshua Brookes, sticking his boot in touch for a clearance to be adjudged out on the full, kept Macclesfield in Club territory.
But Tom Bason and Freddie Owen were increasingly dominant at the line-out and as the latter rose for a beautiful take of a Gavin O’Meara throw at the back of the set-piece in the 66th minute, Sam Eydmann (on the wing in place of Squires, clearly out of sorts after being dumped on his back early on) bravely caught Carlisle’s high ball to release Allen for his hat-trick.
Six minutes later and with increasing dominance Seb Nagle-Taylor peeled away from a maul to cross unopposed from close-range for try number five to put Blackheath in full control and out of range.
Next Saturday Blackheath are back on home soil for the visit of Esher. Kick-off at Rectory Field is 3.00 pm.
Pens: Eaton 2
Tries: Allen 3, Squires, Nagle-Taylor