by Paddy Marsh
Plymouth Albion’s National 1 season didn’t get off to the start they were hoping for when they were beaten by a resurgent Blackheath side at Well Hall.
Albion made a very poor start to the game and midway through the first half they found themselves 19-3 down.
The visitors did well to get themselves back into the game and led by one point at the break.
The lead changed hands a number of times and Albion looked like they had secured victory when fly half Dan Mugford slotted a penalty deep in stoppage time.
Albion then gave away a penalty from the restart and with the last kick of the game Blackheath fly half Joe Tarrant put over a long range kick to snatch victory.
Plymouth had the consolation of taking two bonus points from the game.
Albion skipper Herbie Stupple reflecting on the defeat said, “Although we lost the match to the last kick of the game, the real reason we got beaten was because of the number of mistakes we made in the first 20 minutes.
“At this level of rugby you can’t afford to give a side like Blackheath a three try start especially away from home.
“Saying that I was disappointed with the decision to award Blackheath a penalty right at the end of the game.”
Albion handed a league debut to scrum half Joe Snow and lock Dan Swain while wing Jack Arnott, flanker Eoghan Grace and Mugford were all starting second spells at the club.
Blackheath coached by former Albion head man James Shanahan included three Plymouth old boys, Jamie Davies, Josh Davies and Neale Patrick, in their starting line up.
In perfect playing conditions Blackheath took an early lead when skipper Makus Burcham intercepted a loose Albion pass and sprinted in from half way with Tarrant converting.
After Tarrant missed a penalty, Blackheath added a second try when flanker Tom Stradwick went over unopposed from a maul with Tarrant adding the extras.
Albion’s first points of the season came when Mugford kicked a 40 metre penalty given for offside.
Blackheath then stretched their lead when wing Jamie Davies scored on the overlap after a quickly taken penalty.
Albion got themselves back into the game when wing Matt Crosscombe crossed wide out with Mugford’s conversion hitting an upright.
Blackheath were reduced to 14 after wing Jake Lloyd was yellow carded and the home side went down to 13 when No 8 Tom Baldwin was also sent to the cooler.
Albion took full advantage of the extra men by scoring two tries.
Crosscombe went over for his second following a 5 metre scrum and then full back Dan Powell scored a fine individual effort.
Mugford converted Powell’s try to send Albion into half time leading 20-19.
Albion started the second half brightly and got their bonus point try when lock Dan Collier went over from a close range line out.
Back came Blackheath and the hosts regained the lead when they were awarded a penalty try with Collier carded for pulling down the maul.
As the game drew to a conclusion the lead changed hands four times with Mugford and Tarrant twice exchanging penalties but it was Blackheath who snatched victory at the death.
Blackheath: S Evans, J Davies (A Jenkins 15), M Burcham capt, A Pickersgill, J Lloyd, J Tarrant, J Davies, H King, M Miles (H Fry 68), D Herriott (G Baker 65), C Ozazuwa, N Patrick (S Farmer 64), T Stradwick, H Bate, T Baldwin replacement not used J Bedding
Tries: Burcham, Stradwick, Jamie Davies, Penalty try
Cons: Tarrant 2
Pens: Tarrant 2
Yellow cards: Lloyd, Baldwin
Plymouth Albion: D Powell (M Shepherd 72), M Crosscombe, D Squire, H Skinner, J Arnott, D Mugford, J Snow, W Norton (M Street 62), R Freestone (J Salter 72), D Pullinger, D Collier, D Swain. E Grace, G Mills, H Stupple capt replacements not used C Setter, J Kelly
Tries: Crosscombe 2, Powell, Collier
Pens: Mugford 3
Yellow card: Collier
Referee: Veryan Boscawen (RFU)