Coventry 16 Blackheath 24

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Gabbitass adds gravitas as Club wear down Cov

An exceptional performance and a second period to rank as highly as any passage of play Blackheath have strung together so far this season.

On a damp, grey, windy afternoon in the West Midlands, the Coventry pack gave their counterparts such a pummelling in the set-scrum, reducing them to 13-men for a ten minute spell during the opening session, that it seemed likely they would simply build on their 16-5 interval advantage, despite facing a strong breeze in the second period. However, built on outstanding defence and an intelligent game-plan, the visitors responded with 19 unanswered points, 14 from the boot of Freddie Gabbitass, and by the close even gained an upper hand at the set-piece.

Within two minutes of the start there was a signal of what might follow as the very first scrum saw Blackheath lose their binding and Matt Jones slot the first of his three penalties.

However, the response was swift enough. As Owain James, making his Club debut at full-back, broke from deep in his own half, Coventry conceded their first penalty, and although the drive from the resultant line-out was stopped short, Simon Whatling cut through to the goal-line and a lovely pass from Scott Wright enabled Hamish Graham to squeeze across in the left corner.

Now the onslaught began. With Blackheath infringing repeatedly at the scrum (and Coventry continually opting for the set-piece) Jones initially hit the upright before the fly-half restored his side’s lead with a successful goal on 21 minutes, and as Anders Nilsson and Will Stuart followed each other to the sin-bin, the Cov pack extended their tally by forcing the penalty try.

Nevertheless, the failure to take further advantage of their numerical superiority, as well as the elements, would cost the hosts. Despite some fine line kicking by Jones, Blackheath’s defence held resolutely, holding on to possession to wind down the sin-bin period, and although another penalty on half-time took the lead to eleven points it would ultimately prove inadequate.

Indeed within two minutes of the re-start Gabbitass cut the deficit by three points as Coventry fumbled possession in their twenty-two. Still Blackheath’s defence needed to hold firm as Cov number-eight, and Portuguese international, Jacques Le Roux made a number of barraging runs, but the hosts’ scrum was losing its earlier punch, and another Gabbitass penalty, after James had broken away, brought the visitors within a score of overturning the lead.

Now, Coventry began repeatedly to infringe as Blackheath wore them down by continually driving off their line-out, Wright as accurate as ever, and as three successive throws took the visitors into the opposition twenty-two, Tom Stradwick picked and drove across for a try, Gabbitass’ conversion taking the lead with twelve minutes remaining.

A beautiful kick for touch from Whatling under pressure snuffed out any immediate response, and led to a further penalty as Coventry came up off-side. And the final nail was firmly driven home as replacement prop Tipiloma Kivalu was yellow carded for a scrum infringement, Gabbitass’ final strike denying the West Midlanders a bonus point and leaving 1,300 Coventry faithful in the large Butts Park Arena stand eerily silent.

The victory keeps Blackheath in third position in National League One. Next Saturday, in their final game of 2015, the Club host Esher just one place and four points behind them. Kick off at Rectory Field is at 3.00 pm.


Tries: Penalty try
Conv: Jones
Pens: Jones 3


Tries: Graham, Stradwick
Conv: Gabbitass
Pens: Gabbitass 4


Blackheath Team

15 Owain James
14 Hamish Graham
13 Markus Burcham
12 Simon Whatling
11 Jake Lloyd
10 Freddie Gabbitass
9 Jack Walsh

1 Aston Croall
2 Scott Wright
3 Will Stuart
4 Gregor Gillanders
5 Devin Montgomery
6 Tom Stradwick
7 Dave Allen
8 Anders Nilsson

16 George Edgson
17 Kieron Scutt (Stuart)
18 Chris Sewell (Nilsson)
19 Jake Bedding
20 Leo Fielding (Graham)

Graham Cox

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