Blackheath 32 Taunton 47

28 Apr 2024

The immaculate goal-kicking of Louie Sinclair paved the way for this deserved victory for Taunton, despite being outscored six tries to five though, alas for the visitors, with results elsewhere going against them, not quite enough to retain their position in National League One next term.

With the Somerset side needing maximum points, and Blackheath looking to give Ed Taylor the right send-off as he steps down as Club skipper after three seasons in charge, it was a game that always promised to be open, and it was Blackheath who struck first.

As Ben Charnock (who had a fine game at number-eight) and Andy Denham made ground from lineout ball, Mark Cooke, in the outside-centre’s final match, sent Jake Hennessey across out wide, before an eight-minute spell saw Taunton claim three tries and a lead that was never seriously threatened.

Having probed the blind-side, number-eight Sam Prior then found a gap on the open-side to romp over, and moments later, a charged-down clearance saw loose ball picked up by blind-side Ratu Vakalutukali to send scrum-half Connor Banks across.

Then, as Taunton returned to pick and probe the Club goal-line, centre Deago Bailey squirmed around the defence for a third converted score and a 21-5 lead on only 17 minutes.

Markus Burcham responded for Blackheath, after Will Davis drove infield, and the outside-centre made the line-break that sent Hennessey in for his second try, and ninth of the season, the full-back becoming joint top try-scorer with Jake Lloyd, but while the Club’s goal-kicking was off-beam, Sinclair added a penalty, and Taunton led 24-15 at the break.

Early second period pressure from the visitors looked to have been repulsed, but just as the hosts found an exit from their twenty-two, Sinclair sent through a grubber-kick which bobbled up for open-side Charlie Wright to gather and score Taunton’s all-important fourth try.

All Blackheath’s tries would come from open-play, and as they continued to recycle and off-load effectively, Tom Stradwick put Burcham through for his second, and three minutes later Andy Boye put the former skipper over for his hat-trick after another great break from Charnock.

Nevertheless, under pressure throughout at the set-piece, they lacked any control and as their discipline suffered, Sinclair added three further penalties to keep the Somerset side out front.

Bailey made sure for the visitors as he gathered ball straight from the re-start on 76 minutes with a 60-metre break, Sinclair adding the conversion for a 100% display and a 22-point haul, but Blackheath claimed late consolation as Tom Ffitch’s cross-field kick was taken by Matt Armstrong and Cooke went over the goal-line in his last act in Club colours.


Tries: Hennessey 6, 37, Burcham 22, 68, 71, Cooke 80
Conv: Ffitch 68


Tries: Prior 9, Banks 13, Bailey 17, 76, C Wright 54
Conv: Sinclair 9, 13, 17, 54, 76
Pens: Sinclair 35, 60, 65, 74

Attendance: 560

Blackheath Team

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

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

16 . Alex Witchell
17 . Archie Holland
18 . Andrew Boye
19 . Matt Dalrymple
20 . James Catt

Photos: Andy Wansbury

Graham Cox