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Club winning run ends despite fight-back
Esher 33 v Blackheath 28.
Yusuf Ibrahim always suspected that Esher would provide the stiffest of challenges to Blackheath’s twelve-match winning run.
But even though the Club’s Performance Director would acknowledge the best team won on the day, there will be more than a tinge of disappointment after his side had fought so valiantly to overcome 14-6 deficit at the break and score 15 unanswered points, forging a significant advantage within twelve minutes of the re-start.
Showing much improved discipline on a hot afternoon when tempers frayed (and referee Andrew Taylorson would have none of it), the visitors gelled to send first right-wing Geoff Griffiths on a great line to score. And then, after Rory Teague had added the conversion and a long-range penalty, the fly-half followed-up with a superb kick to touch, the Blackheath pack drove forward, and the ball was spread across field for Griffiths to score a second against his former club.
But Esher, keen to make a quick return to the Championship after their relegation in April, recovered. On 64 minutes their big pack, which held an edge throughout, picked and drove until Blackheath ran out of defenders and former Saracen Kris Chesney flopped over the line to level the contest.
While Blackheath’s lack of precision in their final passing had cost them a couple of opportunities early on, Esher’s better control had enabled them to cross the try-line twice through full-back Chris Elder and scrum-half Patrick O’Grady to set up their first half lead, and now the hosts’ more clinical finishing ability returned.
With six minutes remaining Blackheath found themselves stripped of possession in midfield, and as the visitors began to fall off one or two tackles, EEEs wing Andrew Wright went clear to score before centre Tom Cheeseman broke away to add the Surrey side’s fifth.
Club skipper Tom Bason was driven across late-on to salvage a losing bonus point and give a glimmer of hope with one final play remaining, but Esher turned-over possession once more to make the game safe.
Next Saturday Blackheath play their first home SSE National League One match of the new season when Wharfedale arrive at Rectory Field.
The match is a 3.00 pm kick-off and admission is £12 (accompanied U16s free of charge).
Tries: Elder, O’Grady, Chesney, Wright, Cheeeseman
Conv: Morgan 2, Elder 2
Tries: Griffiths 2, Bason
Conv: Teague 2
Pens: Teague 3