PLYMOUTH ALBION 20
BY GRAHAM COX AT BRICKFIELDS
The narrowest of victories, and a final outcome that left the home side, and their supporters, in a pretty raw mood.
With time running short, and trailing by six points, Albion won an attacking scrum under the Blackheath uprights that forced enough pressure to, arguably, gain a penalty try.
But a yellow card for Tom Williams, and injury to Danny Herriott, meant the final set-piece had to go uncontested. Although full-back Matt Shepherd scored the try out wide for the Devonians, Dan Mugford couldn’t add the difficult conversion, leaving a jubilant Blackheath with their first win at Brickfields in four visits.
Good fortune for Blackheath perhaps, but it capped their best passage of play of the season to date, and a second half where they played far more of the rugby than the opposition who had repeatedly infringed.
Despite a majority of possession in the first period, tries from Albion blind-side Dan Swain, when Blackheath failed to find touch and left their defence exposed, followed by a second from centre Dean Squires after close-range scrum ball was moved out wide on the left.
Elliot Clements-Hill bisected the two scores with a 13th minute penalty when Plymouth collapsed the scrum, but the Club full-back missed with two other strikes.
Although Jack Daly and Craig Dowsett made telling breaks in Albion territory, turnover ball, and a lost attacking line-out opportunity, left the visitors 12-3 in arrears at the break.
A second successful strike from Clements-Hill set the second period off on a better note, and the introduction of Joe Tarrant and debutant Nick Foster to the back division injected the pace and urgency that soon put the Club in the ascendancy.
Tarrant reduced the deficit further with a 51st minute penalty as Albion continued to transgress, and skipper and number-eight Herbie Stupple was sin-binned for going off his feet at the breakdown, and as Tom Stradwick led the charge, Blackheath began to make the inroads over the gain-line for Herriot to storm under the posts, putting the visitors into the lead for the first time.
A penalty for picking up in front from a knock-on allowed Mugford to quickly narrow the gap to a solitary point, but Blackheath were rampant now – Foster’s midfield break, followed by more fine work by the pack, saw Dowsett send Jake Lloyd over in the right corner.
Had Tarrant succeeded with his 70th-minute strike from 41 metres, Blackheath would have been clear, but it fell agonisingly short.
Blackheath return to Well Hall on Saturday for the visit of National League One leaders Darlington Mowden Park (3pm).