In round 10 of the Raging Bull league, we welcomed to a near baltic Utilita an Esher Cardinals side coached by former Club stalwart Chris Kibble. Playing towards the clubhouse, the Club XV couldn’t have got off to a better start with tighthead prop Jed Goodrum, on as an early replacement for Zaki Chamnaoui, scoring a try on 8 minutes following good possession rugby and a commanding driving maul from a strong pack. The extras were added by fly-half Matt Dalrymple.
With Club continuing to dominate in the tight and at lineout time it was only 5 minutes later that they scored their second try and this time good passing interplay between forwards and backs saw hooker, Alex Witchell, with a powerful drive dot down on the left and with Matt Dalrymple adding an excellent conversion. The impressive start was in stark contrast to the previous Saturday!
Blackheath were now playing some exciting running rugby built on a platform of powerful forward play and it was great to see players expressing themselves and running nice lines. On 28 minutes a great crossfield kick from fly-half Matt Dalrymple was nicely collected by Matt Armstrong on the left wing who made good ground before offloading to centre Eoin Molloy who easily beat the Esher defence to score in the corner with Dalrymple again adding the extras.
Completely against the run of play, and on the half hour, Esher scored a nice interception try under our posts which was easily converted. Somewhat wounded by this breach of their defence, Blackheath scored again within two minutes of the restart. This was a really good backs try finished well by centre Molloy who was enjoying a good afternoon playing for the first time this season. Dalrymple couldn’t quite squeeze the conversion over.
The pattern continued with Blackheath in complete control with forwards and backs attacking at every opportunity. The good crowd, braving the extremely cold temperatures, seemed to be warmed by the attacking play and were rewarded with a further try on 39 minutes with wing Matt Armstrong finishing another pacy backs move which this time was excellently converted by Dalrymple.
From the Esher restart Blackheath collected inside their 22 and scrum-half Chris Bell was on the end of another flowing move to score just on the stroke of half-time.
HT: Blackheath Club XV 38-7 Esher Cardinals
Blackheath restarted where they had left off with hooker Alex Witchell scoring his second try of the afternoon following a powerful move from the pack and just four minutes later replacement scrum-half, George Daly, finished off possibly the try of the match with full-back Alex Noot sidestepping a couple of Esher players from inside his 22 before a wonderful break, which saw him link up with his backrow to finally release Daly who touched down just wide of the posts leaving Dalrymple with a routine conversion.
Blackheath’s final try of the afternoon came on 49 minutes with centre Jake Hennessey finishing off a move started by prop Archie Holland who had set off from just short of the half way line weaving in and out of Esher’s defence in almost balletic fashion! He loved it and so did the crowd and those freezing on the replacement bench. Dalrymple added the conversion.
What followed was almost 25 minutes of Esher dominance after Blackheath were punished in the loose with yellow cards shown to Witchell on 50 minutes and Mitchell on 52 minutes. Where Blackheath had been so in control they were now certainly not. Playing unstructured rugby and with several enforced replacements they succumbed to four Esher tries. It would be wrong to say that a Blackheath victory was ever in doubt, but that Esher won the second half by 24-19 tells its own story.
This was a highly entertaining game of rugby producing 14 tries on what was a very cold winter’s afternoon. Much credit to our groundsman, Frank Turner, for producing a superb surface for running rugby and great credit also to Esher Cardinals for a spirited second half comeback.
The team have a free weekend coming up but will be at the Utilita supporting the first team against Rosslyn Park before the away trip to Bishop Stortford on December 16th.
Final score: Blackheath Club XV 57-31 Esher Cardinals
Men of the Match: Archie Holland & Alex Noot
Tries: Goodrum (8) Witchell (12 & 42) Molloy (28 & 32) Armstrong (40) Bell (42) Daly (46) Hennessey (49)
Conversions: Dalrymple x 6