Blackheath 25 Sedgley Park 15

A contest dominated by a strong gusty cross-field wind and littered with penalties, a majority against Sedgley Park, and for which the visitors ultimately paid the price.

Back in National League One after a gap of ten years, Sedge had started the 2023/24 campaign in fine form, sitting in a strong fourth place at the turn of the year, until Blackheath’s 24-17 win at Park Lane in early January signalled a decline which saw them lose seven of their nine matches since, dropping them to ninth place, one behind their hosts.

Trailing 18-3 on the hour-mark, the Lancastrians looked to be heading for a further defeat, but pouncing on Blackheath errors, two tries clawed them back within three points with just ten minutes remaining.

A lost lineout, followed by an off-side, surrendered a promising attacking platform for the hosts, and as Nathan Pope found a line through the Club defence, the outside-centre released Andy Riley, the wing stepping inside for the try.

Nine minutes later, a wayward pass was snapped up by Oli Leatherbarrow, the blind-side off-loading for right-wing William Bradley to scamper under the posts, and with the simple conversion, the visitors were within range.

However, almost straight from the re-start, needless backchat gave Blackheath a close-range lineout, and as Tom Stradwick collected Alex Witchell’s throw, Billy Harding peeled away on the blind-side to score.

Matt Dalrymple had missed with a seemingly straightforward penalty a few moments before (nothing was simple in this wind), but now the replacement fly-half judged the conditions perfectly to add a fine conversion for a ten-point cushion the Club maintained to the final whistle.

It was a deserved victory though for the side who had the better of an untidy stop-start game.

An exchange of penalties left the score level at 3-3 on 30 minutes, but then as Matt Armstrong used his height and strength to good effect on the left-wing, and Archie Holland found a lovely off-load, Leo Fielding stumbled his way over the goal-line for the first try, converted by Tom Ffitch.

Ben Charnock, in at number-eight for the injured Tom Baldwin, made a couple of useful breaks, and Paul Schroter turned possession to thwart a Sedge attack. And as Jack Daly took an awkward pass off lineout ball, the scrum-half tunnelled through the cover for Mark Cooke to send Holland rumbling over to cap a storming 50th Club appearance by the tight-head (ever-present since his debut in September 2022) and a 15-3 lead at the break.

Ffitch added his second penalty soon after the re-start, and with an increasing ascendancy at the set-piece, particularly the scrum where Holland, Will Davis and later debutant Henry Paul were impressive, Blackheath looked in control until a couple of lapses opened the door for the visitors.

However, it was Blackheath who showed the necessary composure in the closing stages, to see themselves to victory.

Next Saturday, Blackheath make their final away trip of the season as they make the short journey along the South Circular to Rosslyn Park. Kick-off at Priory Lane is at 3.00 pm.

Their final game is at home to Taunton on 27th April.


Tries: Fielding 32, Holland 38, Harding 73
Conv: Ffitch 32, Dalrymple 73
Pens: Ffitch 21, 51

Sedgley Park

Tries: Riley 61, W Bradley 70
Conv: Seals 70
Pens: Seals 8

Attendance: 467

Blackheath Team

15 . Leo Fielding
14 . Jake Lloyd
13 . Markus Burcham
12 . Mark Cooke
11 . Matt Armstrong
10 . Tom Ffitch
9 . Jack Daly

1 . Will Davis
2 . Billy Harding
3 . Archie Holland
4 . Tom Everard
5 . Ed Taylor (Capt)
6 . Tom Stradwick
7 . Paul Schroter
8 . Ben Charnock

16 . Alex Witchell
17 . Henry Paul
18 . Matt Dalrymple
19 . George Daly
20 . Jake Hennessey

Photos: Andy Wansbury

Graham Cox