A report by Chas Michael Michaels
Blackheath Development dealt a nasty blow to a confident Westcombe Park 2’s team in the fight for 2nd spot in the league. The result gives Blackheath a share of top-spot in the league with only points difference separating them from Henley.
The conditions were perfect and the 1st pitch at Westcombe Park was to be the host. Both teams heading into the game with a run of wins behind them and so confidence was high in both camps.
Blackheath playing into the sun in the first half got the game underway and showed their intentions early with some shuddering hits coming in from brothers Ben and Liam Johnson. Persistent defensive pressure from Blackheath led to an early penalty going the way of the away team. 3 points were neatly picked up by Danny W. and Blackheath for the first time this season seemed to be playing the game from the first minute. The next 20 minutes of the game saw a territorial battle, neither team able to penetrate some solid defensive lines, yet some great holes were being exploited by Barney and Frosty. Great attacking kicks from Chilcott put Blackheath in some good areas and with a defensive scrum inside the oppositions 22, Blackheath applied the pressure. Coming up against a hefty (some say juiced?!?) front-row, Buckland, Barney and Johnson took control and set a push (that was to be repeated on many other occasions during the game) and dominated the set-piece to steal the ball. The ball came rolling out of the side of the scrum and the first man to react was the effervescent Mayo who picked up, jinked past 10, dummied an inside pass to send the full back into daze and neatly crossed over for the first try of the game. Conversion missed, 0-8.
The rest of the first half felt like it was all played inside Blackheath’s 22 yet consistent threats and mounting pressure were simply absorbed and pushed back by some outstanding defence by Soup, Frost and Reynolds.
Blackheath knew that Westcombe Park would throw everything at them in the second half and needed to lift their game. Wingers Josh and Rob became more involved in the game as ‘Combe started shipping the ball into the outside backs. The backs, now starting to gel, dealt with a lot of attacking threats and gave a few scares themselves.
Not much changed until 15 minutes into the second half when the ball swept neatly through the hands of Chilcott, Medhurst, Danny and Theodor to find Rob one on one with his opposite man. With some quick thinking and an audacious kick, Rob hopped and skipped round his man to regather his own kick and score under the posts. Try converted by Danny, 0-15.
With 25 minutes left to play, Westcombe Park started to really apply some pressure. Some good phase play led to their first score of the game, the forwards working their way over the try line, try converted, 7-15.
Aggression had been high throughout, some huge hits being mounted by Jabba and some excellent stealing going on by Reece ‘the artful dodger’ Barney. Whilst trying to return a kick outside of his 22, Theodor charged straight into the arm of the biggest man on the field and spent the next ten minutes having a snooze on the pitch only to wake up have lost his prize possession gold tooth. Replacements were made at this stage and Brian (as in, O’Driscoll) made his debut, coming on in the back row, ‘Dangerous Dave’ also coming on to replace the man still searching for his beloved tooth.
With not much time left in the game, all that was left to be done was to offer a carrot to the eventual losers. Medhurst was the man to provide with a pass being intercepted by his opposite man to run a freebee try under the sticks. Try converted, 14-15.
Try as they might, Blackheath had worked too hard to give up a victory to their local derby rivals and the final whistle sounded to almighty celebrations.
Final score Blackheath 15 – Westcombe Park 14
I caught up with coach Stephen Pope after the game and he had these words: ‘Westcombe Park has always been the big local derby team so to get this result against them in their own home is a great result, the boys have worked hard for this and I think that the tempo they set in the first half is the best we’ve seen yet. There is plenty more to come but in the mean time, the LOVE IT is gonna be huge!!!)
1- Liam Johnson
2- Danny Buckland
3- Reece (Barney)
4- Ben Johnson
9- Tom Reynolds
10- Will Chilcott
12- Bene Med
15- Rion Theodor
16- Brian OD
18- Rob Karney