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Club denied at the death
Blackheath 41 v Ealing Trailfinders 42.
A thrilling match but huge disappointment for Blackheath who, with five minutes remaining, thought they’d recorded a famous victory.
Trailing by five points, the Club gained a scrum put-in on the Ealing twenty-two and as 18-year old replacement scrum-half Tom O’Flaherty moved the ball, Geoff Griffiths raced up from full-back to slice through the defence for his second score, Rory Teague’s conversion nudging the hosts ahead.
Blackheath just needed to control the ball and wind the clock down. However, an uncharacteristically poor line-out handed possession to the opposition, and as Teague’s challenge on Ronnie McLean-Dents on half-way was adjudged illegal, the Trailfinders’ centre partner, Tom Wheatcroft, stepped up to land a monster of a penalty (his sixth of the game) from just over 50-metres to secure the match and maintain his side’s unbeaten record.
It was a pity for the Club’s fly-half who had done so much to put Blackheath in a position to challenge the league leaders. Apart from the contribution of 21-points, Teague’s out-of-hand kicking gave the hosts the territorial upper-hand throughout the second period, and his long miss-pass that found debutant wing Daniel Hamilton in space in the sixth minute set up the opening try for number-eight Jonathan West, overturning the lead gained by Wheatcroft’s first strike.
Ealing’s main threat was always expected to come from their outstanding back-three and on twelve minutes the visitors served noticed. Moving the ball wide and at speed in their own twenty-two, left-wing Phil Chesters showed blistering pace, as well as great footballing skills, to chip the defence and re-gather for a superb try.
Blackheath responded with Griffiths breaking tackles in mid-field for his first try after great line-out ball, but Performance Director Yusuf Ibrahim will have been less impressed by seeing his pack shoved off their own ball, allowing Trailfinders’ number-eight Sam Shires score down the short-side. Teague added a penalty and a drop-goal to bring the scores level, before two Wheatcroft strikes either side of the interval put Ealing ahead, but within four minutes of the re-start the lead changed hands once again as Club scrum-half Jack Walsh darted through a gap off the base of a ruck and released Hamilton to cross in the corner.
Nevertheless, despite losing the territorial battle, it was two tries mid-half that ultimately put Ealing in control and kept Blackheath chasing the game.
On 52 minutes, fly-half Ben Ward produced an inch perfect cross-field kick for right-wing Owen Bruynseels to score in acres of space, before the visitors opened up the defence with their only real sustained attack of the second period for McLean-Dents to add a fourth try.
Along the way, Teague nibbled away at the lead with three further penalties and then came Griffiths’ second try, but Wheatcroft’s boot ensured the lead would change hands for an eighth and final time.
Next Saturday Blackheath have another tough outing as they travel the Forest of Dean to face second in the table Cinderford before returning to Rectory Field for their next home match in SSE National League One against Cambridge on 27th October.
Tries: West, Griffiths 2, Hamilton.
Conv: Teague 3.
Pens: Teague 4.
Tries: Chesters, Shires, Bruynseels, McLean.
Conv: Wheatcroft 2.
Pens: Wheatcroft 6.