A strong second-half comeback saw Blackheath overturn a 12-point half-time deficit, and record only their second victory of the current season. In the first-ever league meeting between these two Kent rivals, the Club looked to be heading for a demoralising sixth defeat of the campaign at the break, but three tries, and the unwavering left boot of Sam Evans, edged them home in a gripping finale.
However, on a largely grey afternoon at The Slade, the first period belonged firmly with the hosts.
Blackheath have been making a habit of conceding early scores, and this match followed the pattern, as an overthrown lineout, following their own penalty to touch, saw TJs scrum-half and skipper Matt Walsh storm down the left flank for a try on just four minutes.
Murray Galbraith-Lowe came close to adding a second at the end of the first quarter, as he brushed off tackles to get near to the goal-line, but although Blackheath retrieved possession, they held on in front of the uprights for Tom White to convert an easy penalty.
Evans missed a relatively straightforward attempt at the other end, the Club’s fly-half making amends a few moments later as TJs continually infringed, but it was cancelled with interest as Galbraith-Lowe regathered his own chip, this time the full-back going the distance for a converted try.
To compound their frustration, Blackheath finished the half as they’d started by losing their own lineout, this time having spurned three points on offer, and the score remained 15-3 at the interval.
Nevertheless, with the engine re-stoked by bench replacements, including notable debuts for Daniel Dass and Tom Georgiou in the back-row and centre respectively, it was two of the old dependables, with 233 appearances between them, who steamed over the try-line.
With TJs temporarily reduced to 13-men after adding to their eight first period infringements, the additional space allowed Harry Fry to squeeze over in the left corner on 51 minutes.
Marcus Kershaw crossed the goal-line soon after, a great tackle from White dislodging possession before grounding, but Blackheath’s handling moves, so lateral prior to the break, now found penetration, and on the hour-mark Alex Brown weaved a line and Ollie Claxton sent Jake Lloyd over next to the posts, Evans’ conversion levelling the scores.
White’s second penalty restored the advantage for the hosts, before it was TJs turn to lose their own lineout, and as a neat grubber from Georgiou threaded the ball through Judds’ defence, Lloyd collected to complete his brace, and put Blackheath ahead for the first time.
White, such a reliable force for TJs, nudged his side in front once more on 74 minutes with a fine effort, as Blackheath infringed following a horrible attempted clearance, but it was TJs who coughed up the final penalty, and from an equally awkward angle Evans held his nerve to strike the final blow.
Next Saturday Blackheath return to home soil for the visit of Plymouth Albion, kick-off at Well Hall is at 3.00 pm
Tries: Walsh 4, Galbraith-Lowe 33
Conv: White 33
Pens: White 20, 64, 74
Tries: Fry 51, Lloyd 59, 71
Conv: Evans 59
Pens: Evans 31, 78
15 . Alex Brown
14 . Howard Packman
13 . Jake Lloyd
12 . Sam Kennaugh
11 . Marcus Kershaw
10 . Sam Evans
9 . Dan Hiscocks
1 . Tom Williams
2 . Nathan Morris
3 . Andrew Boye
4 . Tom Stradwick
5 . Ed Taylor (Capt)
6 . Dom McGeekie
7 . Freddie Owen
8 . Steve Leonard
16 . Harry Fry
17 . Matt Meek
18 . Daniel Dass
19 . Ollie Claxton
20 . Tom Georgiou