BY GRAHAM COX
Blackheath signed off their 2022-23 National League Two East season at Well Hall in fine style as they scored eight tries to record a 54-5 win over Worthing on Saturday.
Also, impressively, it ensured champions Club maintained their perfect home record, with 13 from 13 bonus point wins, and a fitting prelude to the formal presentation of the league title secured at Westcliff three weeks previously.
On a bright and sunny afternoon, early penalties gave Blackheath field position, and as Tom Baldwin took lineout ball, and Blackheath nibbled around the fringes, Stevie Clarke-Leonard picked and drove for the first of his two tries on 11 minutes.
A couple of forward passes spoiled further promising moves from the hosts and Worthing also probed, forcing some great defence, notably from Markus Burcham and Baldwin.
Indeed, it was from defence that Blackheath claimed their next score, as Chris Bell and Jake Lloyd combined to break from the Club twenty-two. Alex Harris recovered the move as it appeared to break down, the wing evading defenders to make ground and allowing support to arrive, before Clarke-Leonard shrugged off tacklers for the blind-side’s second score.
Moments later, on the stroke of half-time, Nick Foster made a fine run off an attacking scrum, Andy Boye popped up in midfield, and Harry Holland, making his final home appearance before setting off for Australia, sent Lloyd over out wide to put Blackheath 19-0 ahead at the break.
Two quick scores after the restart stamped further authority on the contest. Burcham and Foster sent Harris on another wonderful mazy run, this time from 40 metres out, to dive under the uprights, and as the Club pack drove forward from its smoothly functioning lineout, Tom Ffitch’s grubber-kick allowed Burcham to touch down for a fifth try.
James Catt, also in his final home game after a Club career stretching back to 2008, and which has seen the loose forward appear in a Blackheath jersey 173 times, joined the fray on 52 minutes to help power Luc Jeannot over from another close-range lineout.
Baldwin continued to be a towering presence at both lineout and restarts, but it was Boye who took the main plaudits. The tight-head not only anchored the Club scrum, but was immense in the loose.
On 62 minutes he mopped up loose ball before play swept across field and Oli Burgess sent Andy Denham across to score.
As the game opened up further, Worthing skipper and blind-side Liam Perkins broke clear, offloading to wing Curtis Barnes to get the visitors on the scoreboard.
The final word went to Blackheath with a moment of brilliance from Burcham. The outside-centre, and former skipper, first ripped possession, before collecting his own grubber and dummying his way over the goal-line, Ffitch adding his seventh conversion.
Blackheath complete their campaign on Saturday with a first-ever trip to Dorking, the side who replace Worthing in third place in National League Two East.
PICTURES: ANDY WANSBURY
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