Warren King Photography
Seven tries saw Blackheath to their eighth successive bonus-point victory on a pleasant Good Friday afternoon at Rectory Field, as the Club continued their run of form with this latest victory against Blaydon. Apart from a three-try burst in eight minutes mid-first half, which briefly gave the visitors the lead, the hosts held the ascendancy from the moment Truman Sullivan opened the hosts’ account early on.
Showing positive intent from the outset Tom Bason, who had already stolen an opposition throw, directed Sam Windsor to aim for touch with a kickable penalty on six minutes, and as the pack drove forward and piled across the goal-line Sullivan, playing at number-eight in place of rested James Catt
, emerged with the ball.
Blaydon saw a penalty struck wide, and galloping second-row Chris Wearmouth held short, but in the 16th minute Dave Allen
turned over possession on the visitors’ twenty-two for Mike Canty
to show a wonderful acceleration of pace from full-back and pierce the defence for try number-two.
Now, however, the north-easterners struck back with their best period of the match. Fly-half Gav Painter broke the defensive line for open-side Robert Bell to crash over on the right, followed by scrum-half Andy Davies squeezing over by the opposite corner flag. Then, gathering the ball straight from the re-start, number-eight Gavin Jones broke forward with lock Keith Laughlin in support before wing Simon Barber made the final off-load to Bell to complete a fine handling move over 60-metres and, with full-back Phillip Stewart’s conversion, giving Blaydon a 17-12 advantage.
But it was to be short-lived. Four minutes later a move inspired by Jack Walsh
took play close to the Blaydon goal-line, and although the ball was lost forward, the pressure was kept up and from 20-metres out Richard Windsor broke a tackle to cross the goal-line, his younger brother adding his second conversion and restoring the lead at 19-17 in Blackheath’s favour.
In the 37th minute Jones was temporarily removed for driving early at the line-out and with the extra man, and Charlie Woodall’s accurate throwing, Blackheath took full advantage. The line-out from the resultant penalty saw Allen driven over for the try which broke Tyson Lewis’ Club best ever for a season of 20, set in 2009-10, and following the interval, Blaydon were penalised for losing their binding, enabling Blackheath’s open-side to extend his new record to 22 after Bason collected another throw.
James Stephenson might still fancy his chances of overhauling Allen’s new statistic. From a line-out after another penalty, the former flanker joined the back of a maul before diving flamboyantly across the goal-line on the short-side to take his season tally to 18 which, with Sam Windsor’s fine conversion from out wide, extended the advantage to 38-17 on the hour.
However, if there was one complaint about Blackheath’s performance it was their poor ball retention and the concession of numerous turnovers (many to the excellent Bell) which gifted a Blaydon side, with no fewer than five players of 20-years of age or under, plenty of possession. Sure enough on 64 minutes the visitors capped a long period of open play with wing Fraser Wilson popping over a vacant left corner after a strong break from centre David Clark, giving the Tyneside club a deserved bonus point for their efforts.
But the last word fell to Blackheath and in particular to Sam Windsor. As Blaydon chased a possible second point, the Club fly-half gathered a loose pass close to half-way and, although unselfishly trying to off-load to the hard-working Dave Bonner, who has made the outside-centre berth his own since making his debut in January, and bringing so much stability to the Blackheath three-quarter line, stumbled across the line himself with seven minutes remaining for the final try before adding a fifth conversion and gaining a personal points haul of 15.
Next Saturday Blackheath take on Fylde, one position above them in third-place in SSE National League One in their penultimate home game of the season. Kick-off at Rectory Field is 3.00 pm.
Tries: Sullivan, Canty, Windsor (Richard), Allen 2, Stephenson, Windsor (Sam)
Conv: Windsor (Sam) 5
Tries: Bell 2, Davies, Wilson