DMPRFC maintained their 100% home record at the Northern Echo Arena with a hard fought bonus point victory over Blackheath RFC.
This highly anticipated game had the online pundits divided, with an advantage to the home side the prevailing indication and so it proved to be and the 39 - 24 reversal down at Blackheath RFC last October somewhat avenged with a 33 - 19 victory.
Regardless of home advantage, Blackheath were always going to be a tough proposition and as previous encounters between the two clubs have shown, the visitors are always well prepared and eager to win.
Worries about the pitch with some overnight frost were soon forgotten, as the temperature increased and the surface presented well at kick-off.
After 3 minutes, home centre Garry LAW assuredly put the home side on the scoreboard, after registering with a well struck penalty, as Blackeath had transgressed at the breakdown 25 metres out. (3 - 0)
With some rotational changes in the back line, the side took a little while to fully settle, however this didn't seem to affect flying winger Adam Radwan scored the first try f the game with a characteristic individual effort from 30 metres, powering his way through some half-hearted tackles and cutting a mazy line for a welcome score. (8 - 0) LAW adding the conversion, (10 - 0) giving DMPRFC the early lead.
A missed tackle in midfield allowed Blackheath back into the game and, although the ball looked suspiciously forward in the offload to winger Jake Lloyd, he retained possession and scored the first points for his club, however the Joe Tarrant conversion was wide of the uprights. (10 - 5)
DMPRFC enjoyed the 'lion's share' of possession in the early exchanges, but some poor handling errors seemed to stifle their edge and prevented any meaningful advantage in attack. That said, Blackheath played their part with some attacking defence and good ball movement across their backline, centres Bircham and Cooke of particular mention.
Law added another penalty to edge Mowden in front as the game entered the second quarter (13 - 5) and just prior to the interval, flanker Stradwick struck for Blackheath, scoring a well worked try under the posts, leaving Tarrant with the easiest of conversions, to put the visitors right back into the game at 13 – 12 at oranges.
With all to play for each side, the first score of the second half was crucial and it fell for home winger Callum Mackenzie, who powered his way into the corner after some good pressure from his forward pack. (18 - 12)
Blackheath replied and kind and went a point ahead, when Lloyd crossed for his second try (18 - 17), Tarrant converting. (18 - 19)
Interference at the breakdown brought an important penalty for the home side and LAW was up to the task of edging the home side in front, edging Mowden back in front after 54 minutes. (21 - 19)
Within a minute of the restart, Blackheath found themselves penalised as they kicked back from the Mowden restart, to find several players identified by the attending official as ahead of the kicker. DMPRFC kicked to the corner and the ball was spun out after a catch and drive effort had failed, with fly half Warren SEALS cutting a fine line back inside a wrong-footed Blackheath defence for the score (26 - 19), LAW converting. (28 - 19)
Blackheath did have their moments and were unlucky not to have registered in the second half, getting the ball over the line on at least three occasions, only to have been held up by some fantastic 'never say die' DMPRFC defence, where fellow centres Grant CONNON and Garry LAW were most prominent.
At this point Mowden threatened to run away with the game. Blackheath's cause wasn't helped as full back Fielding was sin-binned in the last ten minutes for illegally hauling down RADWAN, who only had the former to beat as he jinked his way through the visitor defence looking for his second try.
Any DMPRFC disappointment about not being awarded a penalty try as Fielding appeared to be the last man soon evaporated, as the home side scored anyway, after the penalty was kicked to the corner and the ball eventually spun out to MACKENZIE who powered over in the corner to put the game out of Blackheath's reach (33 - 19)
Although no further points were scored by either side, a late surge by the visitors in an attempt to get something from the game in the form of a try bonus point was sternly repelled by the home defence, who always looked solid in the latter stages of the game.
FOR THE RECORD:
Cowell (Connon B, 44), Radwan, Connon G, Law, Mackenzie (McCartney, 75), Seals (Frankland, 75), Dudman, Barron (Brocklebank, 16), Wood, Appleby, Brady (Preston-Routledge, 56), Vaioleti, Fisher, Craggs, Hodgson
Try – Radwan (11), Mackenzie (46, 69), Seals (63)
Conversion – Law (11, 64)
Penalty – Law (3, 23, 54)
Drop Goal – None
Fielding, Griffiths (Chapman, 75), Burcham, Cooke, Lloyd, Tarrant, Davies (Walsh, 72), King, Miles (Fry, 66), Herriott (Scutt, 70), Osazuwa (Nilsson, 26), Patrick (Osazuwa, 66), Stadwick, Owen, Baldwin
Try – Lloyd (18), Stradwick (34), Lloyd (53)
Conversion – Tarrent (34, 53)
Penalty – None
Drop Goal – None
Yellow card – Fielding (Foul play)
Half-time: 13 - 12
Full-time: 33 - 19
Player of the Match: Warren SEALS (DMPRFC)
Next week - Plymouth Albion RFC (away)
Updated 12:32 - 16 Feb 2018 by Tom Bulmer