Bishop's Stortford RFC beaten 16-6 away to Blackheath in National League 1
Bishop's Stortford's recent good form was unable to survive dreadful wet, cold and windy conditions as they lost 16-6 at Blackheath in National League 1 on Saturday.
Playing with the strong wind in the first half, Stortford were unable to take real advantage, although the home side did deprive them of the ball for extended periods with some impressive play based on aggressive running and close support which enabled them to go through phase after phase after phase.
Some dogged defence from the visitors limited the threat of points being scored, but the limited possession made it hard for them to develop any rhythm of their own.
They posed little attacking threat themselves and had to settle for two penalty goals from the boot of Tom Walker in the third and 32nd minutes.
Blackheath stuck manfully to their task of running the ball through multiple phases whilst taking only limited advantage of Stortford's inability to contest swirling box kicks.
Almost inevitably, after minutes on end of driving play and tackle after tackle for the visitors to make, a decisive chink was finally found in their defence and full advantage was taken with a try close to the posts. An easy conversion for the fly-half gave the hosts a one-point lead.
Stortford's huge challenge in mounting a comeback against the increasing wind got tougher just before the break when Dan Powell was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on as Blackheath again threatened their line.
Not only did Stortford fail to achieve such a turnaround, but the quality of Blackheath's handling also deteriorated after the break, so the second half was a pretty dour affair in the worsening conditions.
To add to the visitors' woes, their scrum, hitherto pretty solid, suddenly was in all sorts of trouble, conceding a number of penalties and losing a couple of balls against the head. Despite continuing to dominate both possession and territory, the home side's repeated handling mistakes meant they were only able to add three penalties to their tally, two in the final 10 minutes of the game.
This, unfortunately, was enough to deprive the battling Stortford team of a losing bonus point which, for much of the half, it looked as if they might hang onto through their sheer doggedness.