The latest instalment of the oldest fixture in club rugby fell in favour of Richmond, as the Championship side, preparing for their third season at the domestic game’s second tier, outscored their old rivals by three tries to two.
Blackheath, looking to build on their fifth position finish in National League One in April, started brightly enough, the backline, marshalled by former Cambridge scrum-half Stef Liebenberg, making headway and seeing another new signing, Elliot Clements-Hill, open the scoring, the full-back collecting his own chip ahead to sweep across for a 7-0 lead for the visitors.
Nevertheless, as the Richmond forwards took a hold, forcing the penalties to claim field position, back-rowers Jesse Liston and Jake Parker both crossed for line-out ball for the Surrey side to take a 14-7 advantage into the interval.
Within five minutes of the re-start, Jason Phipps became the third player to drive over from Richmond’s faultless line-out, but Markus Burcham’s intercept set up the position from which Jake Lloyd was able to nip over the goal-line from a neat move off an attacking scrum, returning Blackheath’s deficit to a converted score.
However, the final quarter saw Richmond with a stranglehold on possession and territory, and although some good defensive work denied the hosts any further score, Blackheath were unable to break up field to add to their tally.
‘I’m pleased with that as a first game together as a new squad,’ said Blackheath Head Coach James Shanahan.
‘I felt intent and ball movement in first twenty minutes was superb, just a shame we couldn’t take a few more opportunities, but against a big Championship side like Richmond I’m happy with where we are at the moment.’
‘A key area of improvement for me was to add some pace, which we’ve done and which I believe will make us stronger than last year, but every side in the league will have recruited and feel the same.’
‘Before a ball is kicked in anger it’s difficult to say where the main challenges will come from, but you have to initially look at the three sides who finished above us last term’ (Plymouth Albion, Ampthill and Darlington Mowden Park), he continued, ‘all of whom we play in September.’
‘If I had to pick one, DMP look to have made some significant signings.’
Blackheath continue their pre-season programme with a home fixture against another Championship side, Ealing Trailfinders, on Saturday, kick-off at Well Hall 3.00 pm, before entertaining Kent rivals Tonbridge Juddian on the evening of Friday 24th August.
The National League One season commences on Saturday 1st September when Blackheath make the short trip to Esher.
Tries: Liston, Parker, Phipps
Conv: Kirby 2, Gabbitass
Tries: Clements-Hill, Lloyd
Conv: Clements-Hill 2