Blackheath 36 Fylde 5
By Graham Cox at Well Hall
A spirited performance from Fylde, particularly in a second period where they limited a previously rampant Blackheath to just two tries. Nevertheless, a result that represents the 22nd reversal of a difficult campaign for the Lancastrians – the 12th in a row – and one that confirms their relegation after seven successive seasons in National League One.
Despite their better showing late on, the outcome was effectively sealed within the opening half hour.
With Tom Stradwick at his rampaging best at blind-side, Blackheath pounded Fylde in the loose and dominated the set-piece, starving the visitors of possession in the early stages.
Opting for a scrum as Fylde went offside under the posts, Joe Tarrant slipped across for the first score on seven minutes as the opposition were shoved backwards and, soon after, Matt Miles was driven over from line-out ball collected by Tom Baldwin.
Markus Burcham found a gap in the defensive line as the Club went through nine phases in front of the Lancastrians’ uprights, and as Baldwin stormed through some desperate tackling, and Stradwick was held just short, Jack Walsh sneaked over on the blindside of another close-range scrum for a 24-0 lead in only the 26th minute.
Fylde reminded us of the expansive game they used to excel at on 30 minutes, as they moved ball across their three-quarter line before Jake Foster set off on a run, the left-wing timing his pass perfectly to send full-back Tom Carleton sprinting across from 35 metres, but despite a more competitive second half the visitors failed to add to their tally.
Alex Pickersgill crossed out wide for the hosts soon after the restart, but Blackheath, who lost the unfortunate Anders Nilsson with a dislocated elbow on 55 minutes, never regained the rhythm of the opening period, and both sides were frequently guilty of losing possession in the tackle.
Freddie Owen came close to grounding the ball at the base of the upright, and Geoff Griffiths just failed to grasp Tarrant’s backhanded pass in a neat move towards the left corner, but Burcham managed to twist his body just enough to score after Jake Lloyd broke the tackle following scrum ball, stretching Blackheath’s lead further for a comfortable victory.
Blackheath have another break on Saturday, although the club will be open for the climax of the Six Nations.
The Club return to action the following week when they travel to Loughborough Students, kick-off on the College Campus on Saturday March 24 is 3pm.