Rugby union round-up: Blackheath start 2024 in promising fashion with best display since National League One return


Without doubt Blackheath’s 24-17 win at Sedgley Park was a performance way above anything seen in the twilight days of 2023, and arguably their best display of the current National League One season.

Sedgley Park have fared well in their return to domestic rugby’s Level Three after a gap of 10 years, winning nine from 13 prior to this match and sitting fourth in the table.

But such was the Club’s commitment, energy and discipline, they were able to add to a record which has seen them win on four of their five visits to Park Lane.

The outstanding performance of the afternoon undoubtably belonged to Matt Dalrymple, the fly-half not only kicking 14 of his side’s points tally, but his right boot setting up the two tries.

Dalrymple was well supported by his half-back partner George Daly, who enjoyed an exceptional first start at scrum-half, and all behind a pack consistently on the front foot with Will Davis and Andy Boye making ground, along with back-rowers Paul Schroter, Tom Baldwin and late call-up Ben Charnock.

Although the scrum didn’t always work so well, the lineout – with Ollie Walliker, Ed Taylor and Tom Everard dominating – provided a consistent platform.

It was Sedgley Park who scored first on a fine, bright winter afternoon.

Lovely hands moved the ball wide, before fly-half Warren Seals threaded a neat grubber-kick, wing Andy Riley picking up well, before stumbling across the goal-line for a 5-0 lead.

Dalrymple struck the first of his four penalties before finding a beauty of a kick to touch, and as Taylor collected the lineout, Walliker drove across for the try.

Park responded, moving lineout ball infield, before blind-side Oli Leatherbarrow, arriving at pace, crashed over next to the uprights. A scrum penalty gave Dalrymple the chance of three-points from 45 metres, before the Club number 10 sent up a deft chip for Leo Fielding to snaffle one-handed, and slip the cover to score, giving Blackheath an 18-12 advantage at the break.

A third penalty extended the lead on 51 minutes before a turbo-charged Billy Harding, returning from injury, came off the bench to add further oomph.

As Park’s handling errors mounted, and Taylor pilfered a lineout to thwart an attacking opportunity, the Lancastrians’ frustrations boiled over into dissent.

The hosts had only suffered one defeat at Park Lane to date this term and were always likely to mount a resurgence, and it was on 66 minutes when a fine touch from Seals put them firmly into Club territory.

Now Blackheath needed to defend, something they’ve done a lot of this season, but never with the discipline shown on this occasion, and eventually it was Park who conceded the penalty which broke the hold.

The hosts returned, and finally made the breach as hooker Adam Mallinson was driven across from lineout on 76 minutes.

Although a tense period remained, Dalrymple stepped up with another penalty strike from just inside halfway to ease Blackheath to victory.

Blackheath return to The Utilita tomorrow for their first home game of 2024 as they host Leicester Lions for the first time in league competition.  Kick-off is at 3pm.

Wimbledon resume National League 2 East duties with a trip to Westcombe Park tomorrow.

Their opponents lost 43-26 at Henley last weekend.

The Dons are 13th in the 14-team division with 19 points from 13 matches, losing 11 of them.


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