Blackheath Rugby

Richmond 35 Blackheath 26

by Graham Cox

Old enemy gives Blackheath plenty to think about!

The traditional final dress-rehearsal of recent years between rugby union’s two oldest rivals has more often than not gone the way of Richmond and, once again, the Surrey club, who are celebrating their 150th anniversary this year, have given Yusuf Ibrahim and his coaching team plenty to work on ahead of the opening match in the 2011/12 National League One campaign next Saturday.

As the same heavy band of rain that disrupted the Oval Test Match a few short miles away passed over the Athletic Ground, making conditions greasy at the start, errors in the Club back division gifted the hosts two early tries, leaving the visitors to play catch-up after just ten minutes had elapsed.

Right-wing Richard Bright, showing fine finishing skills, quickly cancelled out the first effort, and Lee Covington at open-side drove over after Blackheath, at the fourth time of asking, managed to produce a decent line-out, reducing the arrears. But by the interval, and with the weather brightening up, Richmond left-wing James Greenwood had completed a hat-trick, and when replacement three-quarter Duncan Peters added a fifth score after the re-start, the National League Two side were way out in the distance at 35-12.

Blackheath did improve. Jack Walsh and, newly arrived from Plymouth Albion, John Coleman took scoring chances well, making strong claims for starting berths next week at scrum-half and wing respectively. But other opportunities went begging and, with a faltering set-piece and too many missed tackles, Blackheath will look for significant improvements prior to the season opener at Rosslyn Park next Saturday.

The Heathens also lost out to their Richmond counterparts, The Vikings, going down 12-5. The Club’s 2nd XV also play at Rosslyn Park next Saturday, kicking-off at 12.00 pm with the National League One match starting at 3.00 pm.

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