Rugby union: Blackheath’s big second-half showing earns win over Cambridge

BY GRAHAM COX

An excellent second-half comeback saw Blackheath win 25-24 at Cambridge to stay on the heels of Richmond and Rosslyn Park at the top of National League One.

Cambridge, languishing in the lower reaches of the table but renowned for springing surprises and an ability to strike from anywhere, had pounced on the Club’s first-period errors to score four tries of their own, building a 14-point cushion by the break.

But a watertight defence, allied to some superb moves off set-piece ball, produced the three tries, without concession of a single point, that broke Cambridge hearts and gave Blackheath the win.

It was Blackheath who struck first.  In only the second minute, Jack Daly secured turnover ball, Tom Burns rampaged forward, and as play moved across to the right, Jake Lloyd flipped the ball up for Leo Fielding to score.

Mark Cooke added the conversion, and with a dominant scrum Blackheath looked to have the upper hand.

But the visitors turned over ball in attack and former Clubman Joe Tarrant sent up a crossfield kick brilliantly taken one-handed by James Martin, the right-wing scything his way into opposition territory.

Although number eight Jake McCloud was hauled down by Daly, ball was kept alive for second-row Gareth Baxter to cross out wide.

Spilt possession in midfield allowed Cambridge to attack again, Martin squirming across after his pack drove forward from lineout ball and although Cooke slotted a 40-metre penalty, a mistake from the restart allowed the hosts to go through a number of phases before the right-wing scored his second try, fly-half Ben Penfold adding his second conversion.

Centre Matt Hema’s grubber saw left-wing Joe Green ground the ball out wide as Cambridge led by a comfortable 24-10 margin at half time.

But they never got a sniff of the Blackheath goal-line in the second period, their only scoring opportunity a speculative Penfold penalty from just inside hallway that fell short and wide.

Three rapid penalties within five metres of their own goal-line saw the hosts fortunate to keep 15 men on the field.

But although Blackheath fumbled their third lineout, Alex Pickersgill broke the line to put the pressure back on and Fielding’s long pass found Jake Lloyd out wide to score.

Fielding scored the best try of the match on the hour as ball, wonderfully taken by Burns at the back of the smoothly operating lineout, was moved by Ben Ransom, on for the injured Daly at scrum-half, and the full-back, with assistance from Craig Dowsett, tore open Cambridge along the left flank.

And as the tempo was maintained, scrum ball was moved swiftly, Markus Burcham’s pass found Fielding – again coming into the line – to allow Dowsett to make further ground on the left, and with Cambridge in disarray, play moved out to Mike Perks on the right, the hooker crossed for the winning try – and maximum points – with just two minutes to spare.

Blackheath return to Well Hall tomorrow for the visit of ninth-placed Cinderford (3pm).

PICTURES BY MIKE FELL

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