An array of former Blackheath players, of a recent vintage, and with an aggregate of Club appearances close to one thousand, were invited attendees at this match. They would have been disappointed to leave The Slade having witnessed a less-than-classic performance by the present incumbents of the Club shirt, and one which saw Blackheath knocked off the top of National League Two East.
In contrast, a majority of the four hundred crowd were ecstatic, and rightly so, having seen their Tonbridge Juddian side claim a fourth successive victory, and a second success in the three league matches against their Kent rivals.
Thoroughly deserved too. Having done their homework on the opposition, Pete Dankert’s men defended solidly, turned just about every attacking opportunity into points, and all backed up by the ever-reliable Tom White.
The TJs fly-half may not have quite been at his immaculate best, but his marksmanship from the kicking tee was good enough to be decisive.
Blackheath had racked up 51 tries in their eight matches prior to this contest but, situated on the flood plain of the River Medway, softened further by recent rains, and with grass left long, The Slade surface was not set for a flowing game.
True enough, the opening quarter was messy and full of error, and notable for Blackheath conceding five penalties, two of which White converted for a 6-0 lead.
However, on 25 minutes, Blackheath manufactured a successful lineout, Kaden Pearce-Paul taking the throw and, despite TJs collapsing the drive, ball was moved inside for Alex Harris to cross, Jake Hennessey’s conversion edging the visitors in front.
Not for long. An interception by Howard Packman saw the TJs wing sprint away for a try against his former Club, and although Hennessey responded with three points for the visitors, White’s third successful strike gave the hosts a 14-10 lead at the interval.
Tom Stradwick and James Catt were two Blackheath men to consistently made ground over the gain-line, and it was their efforts under the posts that allowed Hennessey to cross for a try, giving the visitors a narrow lead, despite the centre’s conversion attempt unluckily, and crucially, shaving the outside of the upright.
Again, however, it was a short-lived advantage, and this time, instead of being an inspired individual moment, the response was collective and massive.
A huge drive from the TJs pack was complemented as full-back Bryan Hotston glided across in acres of space out wide, and with White adding a fine conversion, the hosts had a six-point lead.
The final stages saw Blackheath camped in TJs territory, and on 72 minutes the pressure told for Harris to be sent over out wide for the wing’s second try.
However, the touchline conversion fell wide and although the visitors continued to press, they could not make the necessary inroads to turn the outcome.
The win keeps Tonbridge Juddian in fourth position in NL2E, and means just five points now cover the top six sides.
Blackheath visit Sevenoaks for their re-arranged fixture next Saturday. Kick off at Knole Paddock is at 2.30 pm.
Tries: Packman 28, Hotston 59
Conv: White 59
Pens: White 6, 21, 39
Tries: Harris 25, 73, Hennessey 50
Conv: Hennessey 25
Pens: Hennessey 33
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 . Oli Walliker
3 . Andrew Boye
4 . Kaden Pearce-Paul
5 . Ed Taylor (Capt)
6 . Tom Stradwick
7 . Paul Schroter
8 . Tom Baldwin
16 . Brendan McMillan
17 . Luc Jeannot
18 . James Catt
19 . Chris Bell
20 . Andrew Denham