Students “Clubbed” into submission.
The Club dignitaries attended a pre-match lunch which was dedicated to Daryl Jelinek, Loughborough alumnus and former Blackheath player in the mid 80s. The lunch was attended by many of his University peers including Blackheath players and current Country Members, Rick Bodenham and Rick Sellers. The calm and convivial lunch environment did not suggest any inkling of the storm soon to be played out on the pitch.
Travelling to Loughborough always creates an air of expectation among players and supporters and an 11 try bonanza did not disappoint – unless you were a home fan. Winning by 8 tries to 3 was just reward for an enterprising and entertaining display from the Blackheath squad who, for the third game in a row, took the field without a back five replacement.
Blackheath received kick-off and immediately showed their intentions with a half break out of defence by the excellent Leo Fielding who handed on to Tom Stradwick who cleverly timed his pass to the supporting Jack Daly. With a clear field in front of him and 50 yards to go it seemed we were on for an early score but speed is one thing Loughborough possess in abundance and Daly was hauled down 10 metres short.
After a series of scrums (7 in the first 12 minutes) it was evident that Loughborough had enough capability if not to match, then to withstand, any scrum pressure we sought to exert. However, throughout these early exchanges the pack were gradually asserting their authority; but it was not until a driving lineout became unstoppable that the first score came after 15 minutes – a penalty try which was converted by Fielding who ended up with a match tally of 4 conversions, 1 penalty and 1 try – 16 points in all for the full back.
What has been a thorn in the side of our team is dealing with kick offs, so it was pleasing to see that, with plenty of practice (9 receipts), we were able to make several clean takes and several scrambled ones thanks to good work by the improving Andrew Daish and Anders Nilsson. Winning such possession, immediately after scoring, demonstrates good technique and organisation and goes a long way to putting a side on the front foot for the next period of play. As if to prove the point when we failed to control the kick off following the first score, a brisk attack and clever build up play saw the Loughborough tight head execute a staggering side step and crash over for an equalising score, 7-7.
Despite yellow cards to Jake Lloyd (7mins.) and Jack Daly (28mins.) the Club played with pace and precision throughout most of the game against a team that had themselves played expansively when they put 5 tries past Sale the previous week. An indication of the quality of our play was the fact we conceded only 2 scrums from knock-ons in the second half when good continuity and ball retention enabled us to stretch the defence to breaking point. Daish walked his try in 7-14 after 20 minutes, and from kick-off possession a series of attacks culminated in a break by Ben Ransom and an off load for Fielding to cruise in for his try, 7-19, before he added a penalty close to half time leaving Club 7-22 to the good at the break.
The second half started with tries for Ransom out wide after robust build up by the forwards 7-29, and a score of their own with a driving maul from which Harry Fry bundled over 7-36.
After this try by Fry in the 48th minute and one from Joe Tarrant in the 55th minute 7-41, the students had a mini flourish and the slumbering visitors conceded 12 quick points 19-41. Spurred on by these lapses in concentration the Club re-grouped to add 2 more tries, including a 75 yard solo effort from the ever-threatening Ransom, 19-48 and a final touch down after slick mid-field passing by Elliot Clements-Hill. The 19-53 score line only confirmed Blackheath’s superiority and rounded off what can only be described as a “Club class” performance where skipper Markus Burcham also played his 1st consecutive game.
The remaining fixtures all have their challenges. We host Bishop’s Stortford this Saturday 30th March; a side that did the double over us last season. We plan to reverse that after we sneaked a 15-16 win up there in December. Our last away game is at Chinnor on 6th April and a Supporters Club minibus is going to cheer the boys on. Contact Mark Fiander firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place. We host Rotherham on the 13th, a side we lost to in December and they currently lie 5th. Finally, last game of the season we host our good friends from Esher who look like they may be relegated, thus depriving us of one of our enjoyable local derbies should this happen.
By Des Diamond