BY GRAHAM COX
A rotten afternoon to mark the autumnal equinox, but a first home win of the season, and a comfortable one at that, for Blackheath who mastered the conditions to greater effect at Well Hall to emerge deserved victors.
Mercifully the strong winds had abated, but the rain, which started at lunchtime, fell relentlessly throughout, making handling difficult and frustrating both sides, especially in the early stages.
Inevitably, the first half hour contained multiple handling errors, greasy ball slipping from grasp, along with a few bouts of aerial ping-pong, but the deadlock was finally broken on 31 minutes.
Following a high tackle on Mark Cooke, Blackheath drove forward off line-out ball, and as play moved across the twenty-two, Elliot Clements-Hill found a long pass out wide to Jake Lloyd who had enough space to slide across in the right corner.
Clements-Hill missed the conversion, but the Club full-back found a beauty of a strike moments later from 42-metres, as Darlington handled on the floor, to give Blackheath an 8-0 lead at the interval.
With Tom Williams and Danny Herriott firmly in control at the scrum, and Mike Perks (and later Harry Fry) providing 14 successful line-out throws, the second period followed a similar pattern to the first, with the visitors struggling for any continuity in attack, and the hosts able to gain a majority of territory.
On 55 minutes, Neale Patrick took possession of a throw on the twenty-two, and as centres Markus Burcham and Henry Staff – the latter returning to Club colours after spells with Saracens and Bedford – added their shoulders to the charge, the maul was collapsed five-metres short of the goal-line.
With DMP second-row Talite Vaioleti finding his way to the sin-bin, Blackheath opted to assert further pressure from the scrum, initially winning another penalty, before Jack Daly darted through a gap on the open side to put the game beyond reach.
Blackheath travel to Dillingham Park in Bedfordshire to take on Ampthill & District on Saturday, before returning to Well Hall on October 6 for the meeting with London rivals Rosslyn Park. Kick off for both matches is 3pm.