BY GRAHAM COX
The latest repeat of the oldest club fixture in world rugby ended in the tightest of finishes, with Leo Fielding weaving a great run through a tiring Richmond defence to score in the left corner, and bring Blackheath within a point on 80 minutes.
The Club outside-centre couldn’t nail the touchline conversion in the deceptive breeze and Richmond held on for the narrowest of victories.
Frustrating for Blackheath who arguably had their best passage of play of the season to date in the first half, and led at the interval with the only try of the opening period.
With their scrum having the visitors in turmoil, set-piece ball on halfway was moved to Mark Cooke, whose miss-pass found Fielding producing a delightful offload to Craig Dowsett, the wing evading the cover to race in from 50 metres. Fielding converted, but missed a relatively straightforward penalty soon after, while at the other end, Lewis Dennett knocked over a kick on half-time to leave the score at 7-3.
The third quarter belonged totally to the former Championship side, their experience at the higher level and ability to snap up half chances coming to the fore.
On 43 minutes a missed tackle allowed Ronnie McLean to make a superb break along the left flank into Blackheath territory, before finding fellow centre Cameron Mitchell, who in turn had Jamie Gibbs on his shoulder, the scrum-half also showing great pace to finish the move.
Dennett added a fine conversion and, soon after, another missed tackle enabled Richmond a further break, the ruck set just short for Charlie Gibbings to crash over from close range.
In the 62nd minute, Gibbs once again demonstrated his speed, this time finding an inside ball for former Club wing Hamish Graham to score, putting the visitors firmly in the driving seat with a 20-7 advantage.
Nevertheless, Cooke’s long range punt put Blackheath back on the offensive, and as Richmond number-eight Jacob Parker was sent to the sin-bin for killing the ball, the Club continued to demolish the Surrey side’s scrum and the penalty try was awarded that brought them within range.
Fielding’s try was a wonderful solo effort and lifted the home support further, but it wasn’t quite enough.
Blackheath make the short trip to unbeaten Rosslyn Park on Saturday (3pm).
PICTURES BY FELIX URSELL