Blackheath 48 Tonbridge Juddian 19

For the second week in succession Blackheath’s bid for promotion from National League Two East looked to be stumbling, as they found themselves under pressure from the outset in a match, and needing to play catch-up after conceding early scores and a sizeable deficit.

Nevertheless, the Club recovered to place the game on a knife-edge at the interval, before turning on the style and claim the win, their twelfth in succession since their narrow defeat to the same opposition at The Slade in November.

TJs started with the confidence of that victory in the autumn, and with Blackheath temporarily depleted in number after a deliberate knock-on, the visitors used the extra space for wing Bryan Hotston to dive over in the right corner with only two minutes played.

Club fly-half Oli Burgess responded with a penalty for a high tackle but, with the breeze behind him, opposite number Tom White found a decent touch from which outside-centre Duncan Tout barrelled across from the lineout. Left-wing Hugo Watson found space to trot over out wide as the visitors continued to use the wind to good effect, and with Tom White adding the two conversions, TJs led 19-3 with just 18 minutes played.

Some good fortune eventually gave Blackheath a foothold in TJs territory for the first time. A Burgess kick missed touch, but the ball was fumbled, and as the hosts recycled possession, Jake Hennessey sent Jack Daly scampering across for a try.

Oli Burgess added the conversion and his second penalty, and as Blackheath continued to make ground at the breakdown, Alex Brown made a half-break, Hennessey again tiptoed through the defence, and Tom Stradwick popped the ball to Daly for the scrum-half’s second score, Burgess obliging with the conversion to edge the Club into a 20-19 lead at the break.

The game took a decisive turn on 49 minutes as Blackheath drove TJs backwards from scrum ball, Markus Burcham and Stradwick made the inroads, and Oli Walliker picked and drove across.

Stradwick muscled his way over the goal-line for a fourth try after Blackheath tore apart the TJs defence following Harry Holland ripping possession, but by far and away the best try followed moments later.

This time it was Tom Baldwin who burgled possession in the tackle, and as ball was moved quickly, Burcham, Andy Denham and Hennessey combined, before an outrageous overhead pass from Chris Bell was taken one-handed by Brown, the full-back complementing a fine performance by rounding off a great score.

Blackheath were winning every collision now, running TJs ragged, and as ball was once again moved with pace, Matt Armstrong and Nick Foster sent Harry Holland gliding in for try number six, Burgess finishing with eight successful strikes from eight attempts for a personal 18-point haul.

The Club now head into three successive away fixtures, starting at Bury St Edmunds next Saturday. Kick off at The Haberden is at 3 pm.


Tries: Daly 28, 40, Walliker 49, Stradwick 57, Brown 59, H Holland 64
Conv: Burgess 28, 40, 49, 57, 59, 64
Pens: Burgess 5, 37

Tonbridge Juddian

Tries: Hotston 2, Tout 13, Watson 18
Conv: White 13, 18

Attendance: 386

Blackheath Team

15 . Alex Brown
14 . Jake Lloyd
13 . Jake Hennessey
12 . Markus Burcham
11 . Nick Foster
10 . Oli Burgess
9 . Jack Daly

1 . Archie Holland
2 . Oli Walliker
3 . Andy Boye
4 . Tom Stradwick
5 . Ed Taylor (Capt)
6 . Freddie Owen
7 . Harry Holland
8 . Tom Baldwin

16 . Alex Witchell
17 . Luc Jeannot
18 . Andy Denham
19 . Chris Bell
20 . Matt Armstrong

Pics: Andy Wansbury

Graham Cox