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Griffiths saves Club at the death
GEOFF Griffiths’ second try (above - PICTURE BY HELEN WATSON) in the final moments was just enough to hand Simon Legg his maiden victory as Blackheath director of rugby and, at the same time, deny Worthing a first success in SSE National League One.
The Raiders had been twelve points adrift shortly after the interval, but had fought back into contention, and Joe Govett’s conversion of number-eight James Chisholm’s 72nd minute try had nudged them two points into the lead.
But Blackheath’s composure and National League One experience enabled them patiently to build a final attack, and with three minutes remaining, the Club left-wing pierced the defence for the winning score.
However, it was Worthing who threw everything into attack early on.
Playing at a lively pace and keeping the ball moving, the hosts sought to stretch the Club’s defence and deny the visitors a platform from their set-piece.
Almost the entire opening half-hour was played in the Blackheath half of the field, but Worthing’s early dominance of territory and possession only yielded a solitary Govett penalty (despite a number of set-scrums on the Club goal-line with James Catt in the sin-bin) while at the other end the visitors capitalised on their limited opportunities.
On 22 minutes a rare excursion into Worthing territory saw Des Brett rampage forward after Dave Allen had collected ball from a line-out, and although the tight-heads off-load wasn’t the neatest, Jack Walsh just managed to keep control to cross in the left corner.
Then, on the stroke of half-time, and as Blackheath at last managed to build some sustained pressure, Tom Bason took possession from a further line-out.
The ball was moved swiftly across the three-quarter line (where Simon Whatling was making his debut at inside-centre) for Mike Canty to collect on the left flank, the full-back’s inside pass met by Griffiths for the best try of the match and a 12-3 lead.
A David Marshall penalty after the re-start extended the advantage, but Worthing, who were promoted via the National League Two play-off last term to become the first Sussex club to reach Level Three, had come back strongly in the latter stages a week previously at Wharfedale and now began another resurgence.
With Blackheath giving up possession all too easily in open play, the hosts were able to counter, particularly through Alex Nielson, and it was a mazy run from the left-wing that set up Worthing’s first try as Govett seized the ball from a chip ahead to cross in the 45th minute.
Twelve minutes later and the Sussex side were on level terms as Govett added his second try, and a successful conversion, feigning to move the ball wide after a set-piece and slipping under the uprights.
Almost immediately Blackheath responded, with Canty coming up into the back-line once again to send Liam Gibson over to the right of the uprights.
But with eight minutes remaining some obstruction gave Worthing field position from where Chisholm heaved over on the blind-side of a scrum, and Govett completed a personal haul of 17 points.
Marshall might have eased Blackheath’s nerves with a penalty in front of the posts, but the breezy conditions made kicking tricky (seven kicks were missed in all throughout the match) and as the visitors bombarded the goal-line it looked as if Worthing had turned over ball and would hold on.
But Griffiths managed to regain possession and, with a weaving run, break through the Worthing defence to score.
"Winning away from home is very tough in this league so I’m very happy with a bonus point victory," Club director of rugby Legg told BBC Radio Kent afterwards.
"Worthing had some very quick backs who cut us up midway through the second half when we went to sleep a bit and missed a couple of tackles. "That gave them a sniff and set up a nervous final ten minutes, but I thought overall we were the better side. We were more clinical, set up some good three-on-one chances and our driving lineout worked well again.
"We’ll need to work a bit on our defence before next Saturday, particularly around the breakdown.
"Fylde are another attacking side who like to move the ball wide.’
"But it’ll be good to be back at Rectory Field with it being our first home game and although it was great to have so many travelling supporters here today, I’m looking forward to having our home support behind us."
Blackheath v Fylde is a 3pm kick-off at Rectory Field on Saturday.
Tries: Govett 2, Chisholm
Conv: Govett 2
Tries: Walsh, Griffiths 2, Gibson
Conv: Marshall 2
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