Without doubt a Blackheath performance way above anything seen in the twilight days of 2023, and arguably their best display of the current National League One season to date.
Sedgley Park have fared well in their return to domestic rugby’s Level Three after a gap of ten years, winning nine from thirteen prior to this match and sitting fourth in the table, but such was the Club’s commitment, energy and discipline, Blackheath were able to add to a record which has seen them win on four of their five visits to Park Lane.
The outstanding performance of the afternoon undoubtably belonged to Matt Dalrymple, the fly-half not only kicking 14 of his side’s points tally, but his right boot setting up the Club’s two tries.
Dalrymple though was well supported by his half-back partner George Daly, who enjoyed an exceptional first start at scrum-half, and all behind a pack consistently on the front-foot with Will Davis and Andy Boye making ground, along with back-rowers Paul Schroter, Tom Baldwin and late call-up Ben Charnock, and although the scrum didn’t always work so well, the lineout, with Ollie Walliker, Ed Taylor and Tom Everard dominating, provided a consistent platform.
Nevertheless, on this fine, bright winter afternoon, it was Sedgley Park who scored first.
Lovely hands moved the ball wide, before fly-half Warren Seals threaded a neat grubber-kick, wing Andy Riley picking up well, before stumbling across the goal-line for a 5-0 lead.
However, Dalrymple struck the first of his four penalties, before finding a beauty of a kick to touch, and as Taylor collected the lineout, Walliker drove across for the try.
Park responded, moving lineout ball infield, before blind-side Oli Leatherbarrow, arriving at pace, crashed over next to the uprights. A scrum penalty though gave Dalrymple the chance of three-points from 45-metres, before the Club number-10 sent up a deft chip for Leo Fielding to snaffle one-handed, and slip the cover to score, giving Blackheath an 18-12 advantage at the break.
A third penalty extended the lead on 51minutes, before a turbo-charged Billy Harding, returning from injury, came off the bench to add further oomph, and as Park’s handling errors mounted, and Taylor pilfered a lineout to thwart an attacking opportunity, the Lancastrians’ frustrations boiled over into dissent.
However, the hosts had only suffered one defeat at Park Lane to date this term and were always likely to mount a resurgence, and it was on 66 minutes when a fine touch from Seals put them firmly into Club territory.
Now Blackheath needed to defend, something they’ve done a lot of this season, but never with the discipline shown on this occasion, and eventually it was Park who conceded the penalty which broke the hold.
The hosts returned, and finally made the breach as hooker Adam Mallinson was driven across from lineout on 76 minutes, but although a tense period remained, Dalrymple stepped up with another penalty strike from just inside half-way to ease Blackheath to victory.
Next Saturday Blackheath return to The Utilita for their first home game of 2024 as they host Leicester Lions for the first time in league competition. Kick-off is at 3.00 pm.
Tries: Riley 6, Leatherbarrow 17, Mallinson 76
Conv: Seals 17
Tries: Walliker 12, Fielding 33
Conv: Dalrymple 33
Pens: Dalrymple 9, 27, 51, 79
15 . Jake Hennessey
14 . Alex Noot
13 . Leo Fielding
12 . Markus Burcham
11 . Matt Armstrong
10 . Matt Dalrymple
9 . George Daly
1 . Will Davis
2 . Ollie Walliker
3 . Andrew Boye
4 . Tom Everard
5 . Ed Taylor (Capt)
6 . Paul Schroter
7 . Ben Charnock
8 . Tom Baldwin
16 . Bill Harding
17 . Archie Holland
18 . Koredi Sanusi
19 . Chris Bell
20 . Jake Lloyd