Photos courtesy of Deborah Lloyd
A day of landmarks for Blackheath.
The Club’s biggest-ever away win (surpassing the 24-85 win at Waterloo in 2009), matching the 94-points and 14 tries scored against the same opposition at Well Hall in November.
Four tries for Jake Lloyd, taking the wing beyond 100 scores in Club colours, but most significantly of all, a result which confirms Blackheath as National League Two East champions, and with it the coveted place in National League one that the Club vacated last April.
‘We’re back where we deserve to be,’ said skipper Ed Taylor. ‘We called this season the Renaissance of Blackheath Rugby and I think we’ve achieved that. Today was a really good win to finish up with.’
Not that there was ever much doubt about the win. As the strong wind took Westcliff’s kick off out on the full, the Club pack shattered the opposition eight, and Lloyd sped over for his first try with less than two minutes on the clock.
Freddie Owen sent his right-wing over for a second, before the open-side added a third after strong running from Andy Denham, and with just seven minutes played, Blackheath led 19-0.
Briefly, Blackheath began to over-complicate and let their discipline falter, allowing Westcliff a foothold from which they cut some lovely angles to send full-back James Rea across.
However, opting to tap and go from penalties (kicking into the gale was hopeless) and using their scrum dominance, Blackheath once again got themselves on the front-foot.
Denham crossed out on the left for the four-try bonus, before Lloyd completed his hat-trick and brought up his century, and although Westcliff number-eight James Smith peeled off a lineout for a try on half-time, Blackheath led 31-12 at the break.
Now with the ferocious wind sweeping through The Gables behind them, Blackheath simply created carnage as their backs ran riot with seven tries in eleven minutes.
Nick Foster came up from full-back to be put through by Jake Hennessey, before the outside-centre himself embarked upon a six-minute hat-trick, only interrupted by Lloyd adding his fourth.
Alex Harris came off the bench to add a couple, and even though the rate slowed in the final quarter, a rare lineout saw Tom Stradwick crash over, and Denham scored yet another from deep, Oli Burgess adding a twelfth, and his eleventh conversion.
Spare a thought for Westcliff. The league re-organisation a year ago did the Essex club no favours, keeping them at an inflated level with the result of them being on the end of a number of drubbings this term.
To their immense credit, they never gave up, even trying to run the ball from their own goal-line late on and, as they’d done at the end of the first period, they gained the last word as wing Ethan Tyler met an inch-perfect cross-field kick from centre Greg Bannister to glide over and cheer the home crowd.
However, neither that, nor the squally rain that began to fall, could do anything to dampen Blackheath’s joy at their achievement.
‘The favourites tag is always hard to wear,’ continued Taylor, ‘but we’ve trained hard and fronted up, especially in the big matches.’
‘We’ve three games remaining and need to make sure we keep going and finish on a high.’
The first of those games is a short trip to second-placed Barnes next Saturday. Kick off at Queen Elizabeth Way is at 3.00 pm.
Tries: Rea 33, Smith 40, Tyler 74
Conv: Bannister 33
Tries: Lloyd 2, 5, 36, 51, Owen 7, Denham 33, 72, Foster 47, Hennessey 49, 53, 55, Harris 57, 58, Stradwick 66
Conv: Burgess 2, 5, 33, 47, 49, 51, 53, 57, 58, 66, 72, Hennessey 55
15 . Nick Foster
14 . Jake Lloyd
13 . Jake Hennessey
12 . Markus Burcham
11 . Andy Denham
10 . Oli Burgess
9 . Jack Daly
1 . Charlie McCallum
2 . Oli Walliker
3 . Archie Holland
4 . Kaden Pearce-Paul
5 . Ed Taylor (Capt)
6 . Tom Stradwick
7 . Freddie Owen
8 . Tom Baldwin
16 . Alex Witchell
17 . Jed Goodrum
18 . Harry Holland
19 . George Daly
20 . Alex Harris