BY GRAHAM COX AT WELL HALL
Braving the elements, a crowd numbering just under 1,000 witnessed a controlled, disciplined performance by Blackheath who ended comfortable winners against luckless Canterbury in a National 1 match dominated by the conditions.
With the almost-relentless rain in the build-up, and frequent showers throughout, it was inevitable this contest would be a forward battle and, indeed, all four of the first-half tries were the result of catch and drive moves.
Blackheath struck first as Canterbury conceded a penalty try by collapsing the maul on eight minutes, but the visitors soon responded in their best phase of the opening period as loose-head Billy Young peeled off the open side to crash across.
However, as Blackheath’s lineout functioned smoothly despite the difficult wind (both sides suffered with attempted kicks to touch going out on the full), Tom Burns made huge gains with a number of carries, some off the base of the set-piece, and with Canterbury’s discipline continuing to falter, Harry Fry was driven over in the 22nd and 30th minutes.
Mark Cooke, who enjoyed a perfect kicking afternoon, added both conversions, and although Canterbury rallied enough late in the period to get the ball across the opposition goal-line, it was held up, and the Club held on to a 21-5 lead at the interval.
That advantage was extended early in the second period as good work in midfield from Cooke and Jake Lloyd, coming off his wing, enabled Tom Baldwin to drive across from close-range for the bonus-point score.
However, almost immediately Tom Best shrugged off tacklers to break clear, the Canterbury inside-centre finding scrum-half Dan Smart in support for the visitors’ second try, and with an improved penalty-count, the City side began to find more possession and territory than in the opening period.
Right-wing and skipper Ricky Mackintosh crossed in the 71st minute to give Canterbury hope of a couple of bonus points, but with Blackheath holding the visitors at arm’s length for much of the contest, they failed to threaten again.
National League One takes a break over Christmas, but returns in the New Year with key games for Blackheath against two of the top sides.
On January 4 the Club travel to The Athletic Ground to take on Richmond before returning to Well Hall the following Saturday for the visit of Rosslyn Park. Both matches kick-off at 3pm.
Tries: Penalty try, Fry 2, Baldwin
Conv: Cooke 4
Tries: Young, Smart, Mackintosh
PICTURES BY CLAIRE JEFFREY
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