Rugby union: Blackheath ease National 1 drop fears with 30-18 victory at Cinderford


Blackheath eased their fears of being dragged into the National League 1 relegation battle with a 30-18 win at Cinderford on Saturday.

It was a stop-start game, punctuated by numerous penalties – especially in a stodgy first period.

Blackheath will not mind a jot though as this win, their first in four matches, gave them a precious four points and some clear water between themselves and the drop zone.

On a Dockham Road surface made heavy by recent rains, Blackheath had eased their way into a comfortable
20-6 lead by the hour mark, but two tries in five minutes suddenly brought the Gloucestershire side back within two points.

Hooker Nathan Taylor was driven across from lineout ball for a converted try on 63 minutes.

Blackheath lost ball forward after an intercept and Cinderford countered from deep. Will Baldwin mopped up inside-centre Max Knight’s chip towards the right-touch-line, the wing fed full-back Matt Jones to score which brought the hitherto stifled home crowd back to life.

Blackheath held firm despite a second yellow card.

A high tackle gave Tom Ffitch his third successful penalty strike, and from a scrum put-in the visitors gained ground going through the phases, before Tom Baldwin drove over to complete the victory.

Blackheath had come under huge pressure in the early minutes, conceding three scrum penalties, with numerous resets, before the Cinderford tight-head was adjudged not straight, and the Club manufactured an exit without cost.

The visitors’ first major assault saw Mark Cooke, reunited in his centre partnership with Markus Burcham after a number of years, make ground on the right flank, before ball came inside for Andy Boye to score the opening try on 14 minutes.

The conversion went over from Ffitch, and although Cinderford got across the goal-line at the other end, the ball was held up, and the men from the Forest of Dean were limited to three points from the boot of fly-half Joe Winfield prior to the interval.

Ffitch added a penalty within a minute of the restart, and when Baldwin charged-down, gathered and stormed forward from a clearance kick, Cooke and Noah Sloot were quickly up in support, before Tom Everard crashed through the remaining cover for the second-row’s first try for Blackheath.

Another scrum penalty allowed Winfield to claw back three points for the hosts.

A rejuvenated front-row of Archie Holland, Ollie Walliker and Jack Owlett won Blackheath their own scrum penalty, and a 14-point advantage looked enough, before two quick Cinderford strikes livened up the closing stages.
Blackheath host league leaders Chinnor on Saturday (3pm).

Wimbledon lost 28-26 to Old Albanians in National League 2 East – the fourth match this season they have relinquished the lead in the dying moments.

Wimbledon conceded a penalty direct from the kick-off, the first of many which ultimately brought about their downfall.

OA’s were worthy of their 17-0 lead at the break. The second half was a different game with a revitalised Wimbledon  scoring twice in the opening 10 minutes.

Edward Morgan nipped through through a tiny gap to touch down and flanker David Aniebonam finished off several phases of intense forward pressure to get his name on the score sheet. Both tries were converted by Morgan to make it 14-17.

OA’s extended their lead again 10 minutes later through another good try but fine runs from Aniebonam and wing Tomasz Pozniak ended with replacement Jonny Mason scoring the Dons’ third to give a scoreline of 19-22.

OA’s converted a penalty in front of the posts to make it 19-25 but Wimbledon’s best period of the game saw the ball go wide to Pozniak and over he went.

Morgan’s conversion gave Wimbledon the lead for the first time – and what would have been the final score, but for one penalty too many.

The Dons got a try bonus point and a losing bonus – little consolation to a team that deserved so much better. On Saturday they travel to fourth-placed Bury St Edmunds.

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