Taunton 33 Blackheath 36

Six tries for Blackheath, four of them in a thirteen-minute spell either side of the interval when they, and full-back Jake Hennessey in particular, tore up the Taunton defence to turn a nine-point deficit into a fifteen-point advantage.

However, with the game seemingly within their grasp, the Club were continually penalised (eleven infringements in the second period alone denying them possession), and allowing the Somerset side back in to the contest with two late tries to set up a tight finish.

All Blackheath’s tries came from open play. The first, on just five minutes, scored by Leo Fielding the left-wing making his return to league duty after long-term injury, popping up on the right flank after the visitors had turned possession in their own half, and Matt Armstrong had made ground.

However, as Blackheath failed to follow up their kicking game with tight defence, Taunton number-eight Sam Prior broke to put fly-half Frankie Dart away in response, and only a try-saving tackle from Markus Burcham denied another score from a breakaway.

As it was, with the hosts showing patience and discipline in the Club twenty-two, centre Dan Martin crashed across, and although Stevie Clark-Leonard, demonstrating great strength at number-eight, went across for Blackheath after Tom Ffitch’s neat pass put Shae Tucker through the midfield, Titans’ tight-head Isaac Dalton added Taunton’s third score on 26 minutes which, with Dart’s third conversion, put the hosts 21-12 in front.

With the interval approaching, however, Hennessey, along with debutants Tucker and Billy Harding, the latter playing out of position in the back-row, set Blackheath ablaze in the warm sunshine at Veritas Park.

Props Archie Holland and Will Davis (another of six Club debutants) made inroads for Jack Daly to speed across, before an overthrown Taunton lineout was picked up by Daly, Tucker made a piercing break to release Hennessey out wide for a 24-21 half-time lead.

A deliberate knock-on reduced Taunton to 14-men temporarily after the re-start and Blackheath took full advantage.

Hennessey found Daly on hand for the scrum-half’s second and as the full-back found another run deep into opposition territory, Fielding and Armstrong sent Clark-Leonard across for his second also, and on 48 minutes the Club led 36-21.

Nevertheless, it was the last time Blackheath really threatened. Taunton’s precision and composure wasn’t quite what it had been in the first period but, with seven minutes remaining, skipper and open-side Charlie Wright drove across from lineout ball, before a fired-up Titans pack drove again, scrum-half Jordan Petherbridge’s lofted pass fell for Dart to score his second try, bringing the hosts within range.

Blackheath, however, saw out time, despite an awkward moment when Ffitch’s late penalty fell wide and Taunton broke from defence, the Club claiming a valuable away bonus-point win from the opening day of the campaign.

Next Saturday Blackheath open their account at home as they welcome Bishop’s Stortford to Well Hall. Kick off is at 3.00 pm


Tries: Dart 11, 78, Martin 19, Dalton 28, Wright 73
Conv: Dart 11, 19, 28, 78


Tries: Fielding 5, Clark-Leonard 22, 48, Daly 35, 45, Hennessey 36
Conv: Ffitch 22, 36, 45

Attendance: 599

Blackheath Team

15 . Jake Hennessey
14 . Matt Armstrong
13 . Shae Tucker
12 . Markus Burcham
11 . Leo Fielding
10 . Tom Ffitch
9 . Jack Daly

1 . Will Davis
2 . Ollie Walliker
3 . Archie Holland
4 . Ed Taylor (Capt)
5 . Finley O’Sullivan
6 . Ben Charnock
7 . Billy Harding
8 . Stevie Clark-Leonard

16 . Alex Witchell
17 . Koredi Sanusi
18 . Tom Stradwick
19 . Chris Bell
20 . Mark Cooke

Graham Cox