By Brian Cox
Blackheath lost 22-21 to Loughborough Students on Saturday as they conspired for the second home match running to throw away firm control at the halfway stage.
The visitors conceded two penalties past the 80-minute mark as Club were handed field position and an opportunity to steal victory – but a speculatively long line-out throw went horribly wayward.
A scrappy start from the hosts saw Students’ fly-half Owen Waters slot two 45-metre penalties to give them a 6-0 headstart. Joe Tarrant answered one back for Blackheath in the 12th minute, and as the Club’s set-piece grew in dominance the hosts gradually gained the ascendancy.
With Tom Baldwin rising to take line-out ball, Mike Perks touched down at the base of the maul for a converted try on 25 minutes.
Blackheath went through the phases after a further throw before Jake Lloyd barged his way over out wide for a 15-6 advantage at the interval.
Loughborough thrive on is an open game – and that is exactly what they were offered after the restart.
A frenetic opening to the second period saw Blackheath possession turned over three times, culminating in a Loughborough break down the left flank with wing Tim Bitirim and scrum-half George De Cothi sending Waters through some weak tackling for a try.
The fly-half added a penalty to bring the visitors within one point, before Tarrant gave the hosts some breathing space on the hour with his second strike as Loughborough loose-head Jarod Leat was yellow carded for offside. But despite their depleted numbers, back-row Musu Yusuff’s charge-down gave his side possession, and quick handling and a neat line from lock Charlie Kingham sent full-back Will Kaye across for the Students to take the lead.
A dangerous tackle from flanker Andrew Boyce briefly reduced the visitors to 13-men, the subsequent penalty enabled Leo Fielding to nudge Blackheath ahead once more.
But the Club’s set-piece had collapsed and a scrum infringement on 74 minutes saw Waters kick his fourth penalty to edge the visitors back in front.
There was still time as Blackheath picked and drove close to the Loughborough goal-line, but fine defence turned over possession and as the Club’s line-out floundered, the Leicestershire side gleefully cleared to touch to take victory.
Blackheath will look to rekindle their early season form as they go to Cambridge on Saturday.