CANTERBURY 33 BLACKHEATH 34
This might have been the narrowest of defeats but there was still plenty for Canterbury to celebrate as they earned their first National One points and lift themselves of the foot of the fledgling league table.
A stunning second half recovery pinned back Blackheath, whose slick back division built a seventeen point lead, and with the last play of the match the city side secured a second bonus point.
It was a reversal of fortune that not many in another big crowd would have seen coming. Canterbury could easily have been swept away in a first half where they struggled to keep the score within manageable limits as the visitors rattled in four tries.
Blackheath gave early notice of their threat when only a couple of forward passes spared Canterbury’s blushes. It took them just six minutes to put that right with a try from wing Jake Lloyd but they started to concede penalties and the city side made them pay. A catch and drive score for Jarvis Otto squared matters but that was all they were allowed before half time with the visitors as swift in defence as they were in attack. With full back Leo Fielding a fulcrum they created tries for scrum half Jack Daly and a second for Lloyd, a great score which started in their own half and was completed by a cleverly weighted kick. Before the break lock Freddie Owen crossed for the bonus point try which Fielding converted, but if Canterbury were left with awkward questions to answer they found solutions by taking immediate control of the second half. Two tries in the space of eight minutes, from Aiden Moss and debutant wing Dwayne Corcoran, with Tom Best converting both, signalled we had a game on our hands. Moss exploited ball won at a maul with a typical elusive finish and Corcoran was put away after Max Craven’s half break.
Could Canterbury push on? What stifled them was a yellow card for Sam Sterling for a deliberate knock on and despite some brave defending they ran out of bodies before Craig Dowsett crossed. Fielding converted and Blackheath appeared to have retaken control when they opened up space for a Harry Fry try.
But in time extended by injury stoppages the city side, with the pack putting in a solid shift, still had fuel in the tank. They won a penalty try as Blackheath halted a driving maul illegally and Tom Stradwick was sin binned. Not content, this rejuvenated Canterbury launched one final effort, prop Aaron Cooper burrowing over and Best converting to claim that welcome extra point.
Canterbury: A.Moss, C.Grimes, S.Sterling, T.Best, D.Corcoran, M.Craven (repl K.Braithwaite), K.Braithwaite (repl D.Smart), J.Dever (repl A.Cooper), J.Otto (repl S.Roche), S.Kenny, R.Cadman, M.Corker, W.Scholes, S.Rogers, G.Micans