Sunday, 17 March 2013

Blackheath 53 v 17 Sedgley Park

Saturday 16th March 2013
Rugby Union National League One
Rectory Field, Charlton
Admission including Programme: £12.00
Attendance: 357
Match Rating: 4

With Charlton’s game against Millwall being brought forward to a 12.30 kick off, this opened up the possibility of catching a second game afterwards. Persistent rain all morning falling on already sodden ground put paid to the only local football game I could take in at Bridon Ropes, so instead I crossed Charlton village to take in, for me, a rare rugby game, in the third tier of the English rugby union league pyramid.

The Rectory Field is located about 15 minute walk from Charlton train station, a similar length from The Valley, with much of the walk being uphill, and the ground is part of a large sporting complex also housing cricket, tennis and squash clubs. From the entrance, one walks alongside the clubhouse and bar, and as one continues, there is a snack bar and drinks outlet behind one end of the rugby pitch. Along one length of the pitch – furthest from the entrance and the boundary of the complex – is an all-seater covered stand attractively decorated in club colours, and either side are about a dozen uncovered terrace steps. Along the other length, three moveable terrace steps are located at either end, with the middle third of the length inaccessible due to the protected cricket square. A basic electronic scoreboard is located in one corner of the ground, and mention must be made of the snack bar, which offers some excellent quality fare not usually seen at sporting venues. The 44 page programme, included in admission, was an excellent read, if a little heavy with advertising, but included plenty of information about both clubs, recent form and today’s match.

Coming into this game, the league table pointed to a home win, with Blackheath in seventh place in the 16 team league, with Manchester based Sedgley Park second from bottom. Blackheath had a disappointing home defeat to Coventry last Saturday, although they won their previous three games.
When the two teams met back in October, Sedgley Park convincingly won by 40-22, inflicting Blackheath’s worst defeat of the season, but just two wins in 18 games since has left them in grave danger of relegation.

On a dry afternoon, with even sunshine and blue skies making occasional appearances, Blackheath took control of the match early on, scoring a try as early as the fourth minutes, and a further four tries followed for the home side by half time, to take a 31-3 lead into half-time, and was a good reflection on the dominance of the home side in the first half. Jack Walsh (4 minutes), Liam Gibson (11), Dave Allen (14 and 24) and Gavin O’Meara (38) scored the tries for Blackheath, Rory Teague converting three of them.

Full credit though to Sedgley Park, who rolled their sleeves up in the second half to  attack Blackheath at the start of the second half, to the extent that they threatened to make an extremely unlikely comeback, getting back to within two converted tries of the home side after 15 minutes of the second half. However, Blackheath did up the ante and return to the form they showed in the first half to move clear once more and eventually claim a convincing win to remain in seventh place in the league. Richard Windsor (55 minutes), Teague (69), Lee Covington (74) and Richard Lankshear (80) scored the second half tries for Blackheath, with one being converted by Teague. Sedgley Park ran in two tries in the second half, by Steve Collins and Lloyd, both converted by Matthew Riley, who also scored a penalty.

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