Photos courtesy of Deborah Lloyd
Eighty-three points and twelve tries, in this National League Two East finale, all played out in front of a good-sized crowd enjoying a fine spring afternoon at this picturesque venue overlooked by Box Hill.
For Blackheath it rounded off a season, which has not only seen them regain the position in National League One they vacated a year ago, but score over 1,000 points in a season for the first time, and cross the try-line no fewer than 158 times.
Dorking will be no less pleased with their afternoon. Promoted last term, the two league points picked up by the Surrey side secured a third place in the table, the club’s highest-ever finish in the league structure, and they also had the satisfaction of scoring more heavily than any team against Blackheath in this campaign.
As the grey cloud cover moved aside, allowing the sun to emerge over The Big Field, Blackheath had easily the best of the first quarter.
With Dorking conceding early penalties, and the ever-excellent (and ever-present this season) Tom Baldwin towering in the lineout, Ollie Walliker drove across for the opening score, and as Markus Burcham cut through the midfield, and Dorking killed the play, Blackheath opted for the scrum from which Chris Bell sent the inside-centre over to complete the move he had started for a 14-0 lead.
However, despite being shunted backwards at the scrum, the hosts launched a blind-side move which saw flanker Will Scholes across to cut the deficit, and a tired and battered defence was further exposed on 33 minutes, as missed tackles saw second-row Jasper King romp over, bringing the scores level.
Bell’s break and dummy, before Nick Foster’s inside ball for Jake Hennessey, moved the visitors ahead once more, the outside-centre adding a third conversion to his try, but the response was swift, as another move from deep saw the excellent Toby McRae sending fly-half Cameron Cowell over for Dorking to cancel out once more, leaving the score at 21-apiece at the interval.
Henry Anscombe is the leading points scorer in the division, and as well as converting all Dorking’s tries in this contest, the inside-centre added the 43rd minute penalty which put his side in front.
Only briefly however, as Stevie Clark-Leonard was soon driving Walliker across from the Club’s smoothly operating lineout for the hooker’s second try, followed by Hennessey completing his brace, after Archie Holland (also present in all 26 league games) and Andy Boye had produced a mighty effort in the scrum.
McRae came off his wing to score under the posts as Dorking moved lineout ball infield, reducing the arrears to just two points but, in his last appearance before heading for Australia, Harry Holland found space on the right flank to race across out wide for the Club’s sixth try.
James Catt, an immense figure in Blackheath colours over nearly fifteen years and, as ever, making a huge contribution in this contest, came within inches of scoring on his 174th and final appearance before retirement but, perhaps equally as fitting, it was fellow second-row, and the man who has led the Club so admirably this term and last, Ed Taylor, to make extra distance, and put the visitors 14-points clear.
However, Dorking were not done. In open play, their electric back three had posed danger throughout, and as they stretched the opposition defence, McRae added his second score (and 35th of the season to make hime easily the league’s top try scorer), ensuring the final eleven minutes would be keenly contested, with the visitors hanging on.
Tries: Scholes 21, King 31, Cowell 38, McRae 55, 69
Conv: Anscombe 21, 33, 38, 55, 69
Pens: Anscombe 43
Tries: Walliker 8, 48, Burcham 19, Hennessey 34, 53, H Holland 59, Taylor 62
Conv: Hennessey 8, 19, 34, 53, 59
15 . Nick Foster
14 . Jake Lloyd
13 . Jake Hennessey
12 . Markus Burcham
11 . Alex Harris
10 . Chris Bell
9 . Jack Daly
1 . Archie Holland
2 . Ollie Walliker
3 . Andy Boye
4 . James Catt
5 . Ed Taylor (Capt)
6 . Stephen Clark-Leonard
7 . Harry Holland
8 . Tom Baldwin
16 . Alex Witchell
17 . Luc Jeannot
18 . Kaden Pearce-Paul
19 . James Bush
20 . Andy Denham