A disappointing return to National League One action for Blackheath, as they succumbed to the might of the Plymouth Albion pack on this squally afternoon at Brickfields.
The conditions were made for forwards, with the frequent showers adding to a ground made soft by recent heavy rain, and with Albion holding the advantage in size and weight in just about every position, it was they who claimed full spoils.
Not that Blackheath were outclassed. The Club had good passages of play with enough possession and movement which, on another day, would trouble the Devonians but, when the sniff of a rally materialised late on, the deluge which arrived from the heavens in the final quarter denied them the accuracy and control they craved.
The early signs were ominous, however. Shunted backwards at the first scrum, and then driven over the goal-line, bodies underneath the ball denying the hosts.
It was only to be a short reprieve though, as loose-head Ramaz Rakhadze crashed over in the right corner on 12 minutes from close-range lineout ball, fly-half Phil Jones adding a fine conversion from out wide.
Nevertheless, with Jack Daly bravely and securely collecting two high balls, the ever-excellent Markus Burcham, in his 249th Club appearance, probing the midfield, and Bill Harding’s accuracy at the lineout, Blackheath soon found themselves camped in the right corner.
Three times Albion infringed, as the visitors pressed the goal-line, Stevie Clark-Leonard showing particular strength, but the next push saw Archie Holland across for the score.
Matt Dalrymple converted to level, and although the Club fly-half saw a penalty wobble wide, soon added a successful strike for the lead following a scrum infringement.
However, as the half drew to a close, Albion’s pack returned to the Club twenty-two once more, this time to work number-eight Sam Daly under the posts from a tap-penalty move, putting the Devon side 14-10 ahead at the break.
Albion continued after the re-start with similar dominance as Daly was driven across for his second score, but it was the moments immediately after that probably sealed Blackheath’s fate.
An outstanding 50:22 touch from scrum-half Jack Oulton gave Albion field position, and although lineout ball was untidy, Jones plundered a hole in the defence to put his skipper across to finish the move he’d effectively started.
As conditions deteriorated, loose ball in Club territory was hoofed forward several times, and Leo Fielding won the race to touch down, allowing hope of salvaging some return for the long trip, but the rainfall returned with such intensity as to extinguish any realistic chance of a dramatic turnaround.
Blackheath will now look to wipe away the memory of successive away defeats, as they return to The Utilita next Saturday for the visit of Richmond, for another instalment of the longest continuously played fixture in world rugby union.
The match which, given the two clubs’ histories, fittingly falls on Remembrance Day, is a 3.00 pm kick-off, and will be preceded by a two minutes silence.
Tries: Rukhadze 12, Daly 40, 49, Oulton 51
Conv: Jones 12, 40, 49, 51
Tries: Holland 19, Fielding 64
Conv: Dalrymple 19
Pens: Dalrymple 32
15 . Jake Hennessey
14 . Jake Lloyd
13 . Shae Tucker
12 . Markus Burcham
11 . Leo Fielding
10 . Matt Dalrymple
9 . Jack Daly
1 . Archie Holland
2 . Will Harding
3 . Jack Owlett
4 . Paul Schroter
5 . Ed Taylor (Capt)
6 . Stevie Clark-Leonard
7 . Ronan Foley
8 . Tom Baldwin
16 . Alex Witchell
17 . Andrew Boye
18 . Fin O’Sullivan
19 . Alex Noot
20 . Sam Hill