Rugby union: Blackheath lose 33-25 at Rams as they let half-time lead slip

A disappointing outcome for Blackheath, who produced arguably their best rugby of the season in the opening quarter of this contest, building a sizeable advantage which they maintained until the interval with some outstanding defence.

However, the familiar traits of an over-reliance on a faltering kicking game, allied to the concession of a few soft penalties, opened a door for the Berkshire side to slip through and keep up their challenge at the top National League 1 with a bonus point win.

It was a blistering start though, a joy for visiting supporters, and one which silenced the home support.

As Blackheath secured possession from their own kick-off, Rams came up off-side inside the first minute for Tom Ffitch to put the visitors three points ahead, and the Club fly-half added a good conversion soon after, after lineout ball was recycled across field, and Leo Fielding’s overhead pass found Jake Lloyd to cross out wide.

Rams responded quickly themselves, keeping the ball alive beneath the uprights before second-row Dan Swain dived over but, with Blackheath again claiming the ball from their restart, this time through Billy Harding, Fielding broke down his left-wing, and found Jake Hennessey coming up on the inside at pace from full-back for a fine try.

Even that score was trumped by the next.  Great handling through numerous phases, marshalled brilliantly by Jack Daly, and including a fine pick up along the way from Archie Holland, sent Noah Sloot across in the right corner and, with only 15 minutes played, Blackheath were 20-7 ahead.

Rams slowly eased themselves into the contest, and dominated territory for the remainder of the period.

But a solid set-piece with Harding consistently hitting his mark at the lineout, combined with firm defence – including one excellent turnover courtesy of Tom Everard – forced the hosts into numerous handling errors, and the score remained unchanged up to the break.

Nevertheless, the seeds of the turnaround had been sown towards the end of the first period.

With Blackheath starting the second half temporarily down a man for a high tackle, Rams exposed the midfield with a breakaway from number-eight James McRae, for scrum-half Ollie Monye to slide over the goal-line.

Charlie Robson had already served notice he was prepared to run at the Club defence, and as a now error-free Rams attacked off lineout ball, the left-wing cut a line through the cover to score, fly-half Fraser Honey’s third successful conversion inching the hosts into the lead for the first time.

Right-wing Zak Clow and full-back George Makepeace were also happy to run back possession, although overall Blackheath’s discipline was improved, another high tackle set another attacking platform, and this time centre Ellis Jones squirmed his way to the line for a try.

Blackheath responded in kind by planting their own penalty into touch. Stevie Clark-Leonard (pictured) grounded from the lineout drive to put the visitors back within a single point.

A great offload sent Clow evading some tired tackles to stamp Rams’ authority once again, and Honey’s conversion put them beyond reach.

National League 1 takes an Easter break next week.  Blackheath return to action on Saturday April 6 when they host Sedgley Park at The Utilita.  Kick-off is 3pm.


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