A resounding win to take Blackheath back to the top of National League Two East, but within lies a tale of a game which, for at least the first half, was much closer than the lopsided final scoreline might suggest.
Sevenoaks, promoted as champions of the then London & South East Premier last season, and enjoying a first-ever season at Level Four, matched and frustrated the visitors throughout the opening session, taking a deserved four-point advantage into the interval.
Only after the break did the visitors begin to exert control, their pace and movement out wide proving too much for the hosts, allowing the Club to eventually run riot in the final quarter when they crossed for five of their eight-try tally.
Not for the first time in this campaign, poor discipline haunted Blackheath early on. The accumulation of five penalties in sixteen minutes culminated in a yellow card for Stevie Clark-Leonard, Oaks exploiting the extra space immediately by sending left-wing Jimmy Short across after opting for the scrum.
Oli Burgess was soon following Clark-Leonard after a high tackle but, ironically, it was while down to thirteen men that Blackheath found their best move of the first half. Following turnover ball, play was kept alive through a number of phases, before Alex Harris rounded the defence, the Club left-wing scoring his tenth try in only his ninth appearance.
Jake Hennessey added the conversion for the lead, but with the competitive home pack more than holding their own, and the visitors continuing to infringe, two Ben Adams penalties put the hosts 11-7 ahead going in to half-time.
However, two minutes after the re-start, it was from an Oaks infringement, and from a quick tap-and-go, that ball found its way to Tom Baldwin, the Club number-eight grounding across the goal-line despite a crowd of defenders around him.
Adams saw another goal attempt strike the upright, causing momentary panic in the Blackheath defence, but now the visitors started to inject more speed and energy into the game, and on 58 minutes, as possession was turned over after a lineout to win the scrum, Nick Foster sent Jake Lloyd bursting through a tackle on the right flank to, at last, put some daylight between the sides.
Not that there was much actual daylight remaining! A ten-minute injury delay for unfortunate Oaks’ centre James Fotheringham (very sore, but, thankfully, released from hospital last night), had seen the low autumnal sun, which hitherto had been lighting up Knole Paddock, sink behind the adjacent school buildings.
The gathering gloom had little detrimental effect on Blackheath though. Lloyd stepped through the midfield for his second try, and as a Foster break took play close the opposition goal-line, Hennessey fed the right-wing for his hat-trick.
Another wonderful solo run saw Foster weave a line for a try, the Club full-back adding his second quickly after, before Alex Witchell was driven over on eighty minutes, Hennessey striking a sixth successful conversion.
‘Credit to Sevenoaks, they came out really aggressively, as we expected them to do in a local derby’, said Club head coach James Shanahan.
‘We had an ‘honest’ chat at half-time and managed to turn things around.’
‘Our kick-chase game was much better which squeezed them. We got a much better platform from the set-piece, which meant we were able to keep the ball for longer, and, obviously, in the last 20 minutes we really kicked on.’
‘The scoreline looks an easy win, but it was far from that.’
Blackheath now return to Well Hall for two back-to-back home games. Next Saturday they welcome Westcliffe and on 3rd December it’s the turn of Barnes. Kick-off for both matches is at 3.00 pm.
Tries: Short 17
Pens: Adams 36, 40
Tries: Harris 22, Baldwin 42, Lloyd 58, 68, 71, Foster 74, 77, Witchell 80
Conv: Hennessey 22, 42, 68, 71, 74, 80
15 . Nick Foster
14 . Jake Lloyd
13 . Jake Hennessey
12 . Markus Burcham
11 . Alex Harris
10 . Oli Claxton
9 . Jack Daly
1 . Archie Holland
2 . Brendan McMillan
3 . Andrew Boye
4 . Ed Taylor (Capt)
5 . Tom Stradwick
6 . Paul Schroter
7 . Stevie Clark-Leonard
8 . Tom Baldwin
16 . Alex Witchell
17 . Luc Jeannot
18 . Andrew Denham
19 . Chris Bell
20 . Oli Burgess