Blackheath 39 Loughborough Students 32
Joe Tarrant collected 19 points on his return to action after a two-month lay-off.
Blackheath’s leading goal-kicker, playing at full-back, succeeded in six from seven attempts, and added what would turn out to be the deciding try, as both National One sides crossed the goal-line an equal number of times.
It was the visitors who claimed the better start.
Demonstrating sharp pace, and belying their lowly status at the foot of the table, Loughborough quickly had Blackheath reduced to 14-men, Mark Cooke stretching out a hand to spoil a potential scoring pass, and soon took the lead as hooker Harry Newborn drove over from line-out ball.
Cooke returned to make amends, the fly-half’s well-timed pass sending Tom Stradwick rampaging through the midfield and releasing Harry Bate to cross next to the uprights, but poor defending around the ruck allowed Student scrum-half Jack Moates across for a second try to the visitors.
Freddie Owen broke from a maul off line-out ball for parity at 12-12, followed by a lovely move as Jake Lloyd made ground down the right flank and Henry Staff went over at pace.
With Tarrant adding two penalties to his two conversions, double the count for opposite number Charlie Reed, Blackheath led 25-15 at the break.
Loughborough started the second period with the same energy as the first, and with Blackheath reduced to 14-men for a third time, fly-half Mark Dixon’s long pass enabled wing Will Brown to cross out wide, before further pressure saw Newborn slide across in the opposite corner to bring the score level again on 54 minutes.
With Stradwick and Neale Patrick starting to dominate the line-out, and a growing ascendancy at the scrum, Harry Fry was driven across to regain the advantage for the hosts.
Markus Burcham made inroads in midfield and Jack Daly marshalled beautifully at scrum-half. Tarrant and Jake Lloyd combined down the right wing, the latter crossed at pace for a wonderful try, the conversion opening up a 14-point advantage.
The Students rallied once more, and although outside-centre Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas’ try came with only one minute remaining, it ensured a tight finish, as well as securing two league points for the Leicestershire side.
Blackheath take on Bishop’s Stortford at Silver Leys on Saturday before returning to Well Hall the following week for their final home match of 2018 against Chinnor.
Pics below by Helen Watson