BY GRAHAM COX AT SILVER LEYS
If you made the journey to Hertfordshire and braved the elements, you were rewarded with a game that proved a huge slog, and one where both sides will feel unsatisfied with the end result.
Bishop’s Stortford’s overall game management probably had the edge, and when their chances came, they executed well, while Blackheath let theirs slip, literally, and relied on their scrum, which wrecked the opposition eight all afternoon, to drag them back from defeat.
In that respect, two early scrums set the tone, but in the five previous meetings between the sides, in which Stortford hold the balance of three wins, Blackheath have consistently floundered in the face of a resilient and dogged defence.
Kicks against the visitors in the first period, which were held up in the strong wind, were met competently by the Stortford back three, and when a gust kept a penalty infield, full-back Nick Hankin slipped through tackles for skipper and outside-centre Sam Winter to cross out wide.
Mark Cooke found a good strike from 35 metres for three points after Stortford went offside, but almost straight from the restart, the Club fly-half’s kick from defence rebounded off the head of opposition hooker Harrison King, inside-centre George Keen kicking on to ground the ball for a 10-3 lead to the hosts.
Either side of the interval Blackheath produced decent attacking opportunities only for ball to be knocked on in midfield, and Cooke was less successful with a second penalty, despite the wind now being in the Club’s favour.
However, as they kept up the pressure, Tom Williams, Harry Seward and Danny Herriott, with the excellent Neale Patrick and Josh Peters applying the power from the second-row, tore up the Stortford scrum to win the penalty try that brought parity.
With Stortford reduced temporarily to 13 men, Blackheath seemed more likely to find the winning score.
And it looked to have come when Ben Ransom seemed to have touched down Cooke’s chip over the defence.
But referee Ross Mabon was closer than most and adjudged a Stortford body had grounded first and the scores remained level.
Blackheath are not back in action again until February 29 – home to Cambridge.
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