Weather fails to dampen Club’s day in the pink
Warren King Photography
They couldn’t organise the weather for Ladies’ Day but at least Blackheath managed to lay on another fine performance to grace the occasion, and make it eleven consecutive bonus point wins to complete their SSE National League One campaign. In spite of the sodden conditions, the Club created four outstanding tries in front of their biggest gate of the season, effectively to put the contest beyond the reach of their long-standing south London rivals by early in the second half, and secure a third-place finish in the table.
Wearing their specially designed pink shirts, and looking to be positive from the outset, the hosts took an early lead which, despite the spirited efforts of Rosslyn Park, particularly late on, never came under serious threat. Line-out ball proved tricky in the wind and rain, but on five minutes Tom Bason made a clean take on half-way before Des Brett and James Cleverly drove forward. James Stephenson made further ground on the left-wing, and as the ball came inside James Catt popped the ball up neatly for Richard Windsor to break tackles and cross beneath the uprights.
Park competed hard, particularly up front in the forward exchanges, trying to make inroads around the fringes and testing the hosts’ defence, and perhaps Blackheath were guilty of trying to play a little too much rugby, but on the half-hour their enterprise paid dividends as they stole a decisive advantage.
On 28 minutes Stephenson picked up a grubber-kick in his twenty-two and began a weaving run that took him into opposition territory. Bason came up at pace, feeding Richard Windsor who found Gavin O’Meara on his shoulder to finish the move from 25-metres out.
Then, as the re-start failed to go ten-metres and Park conceded the put-in, play was moved out wide to Tom Chapman who off-loaded beautifully in mid-air to send Sam Windsor in for try number three, the fly-half continuing to celebrate his 60th consecutive appearance by adding his second conversion for a 19-0 lead.
Dan Richmond’s reckless stamp on Dave Bonner’s head met instant justice in the form of a red card from referee Ross Campbell (who had an excellent game in the middle), and Park’s cause could have done without the temporary removal of their hooker’s replacement, Ben Gotting, for punching Jack Walsh after the break, but in fairness Blackheath probably didn’t take full advantage of their superior numbers and the visitors rallied well.
The bonus-point try came in the 55th minute as Chapman cut inside, after sustained pressure in the opposition twenty-two, and Catt made the final pass to the England U18 scrum-half (playing in this instance on the right-wing), but it was the final time the hosts troubled the scoreboard, despite the efforts of Stephenson and Mike Canty who looked to run from deep.
Instead Park’s Ross Laidlaw knocked over an easy penalty and the fly-half (and the league’s second-highest points scorer) added a far more testing conversion in the 73rd minute, after inside-centre Charlie Gower made the incision in midfield to create a three-man overlap for replacement wing Mike Baxter to cross in the right corner.
And a losing bonus point beckoned at the very death as a break-away move saw John Rudd steaming for the goal-line. But Chapman did just enough to dislodge the ball from the left-wing’s grasp as he dived for the score, leaving a rueful grin on his mud-splattered face and no doubt reflecting that nothing was going ruin the Club’s end of season party.
Tries: Windsor (Richard), O’Meara, Windsor (Sam), Chapman
Conv: Windsor (Sam) 2