RAMS RFC made it back-to-back league wins in National One with a spectacular six-try victory in a clinical second-half display to claim a bonus point victory at Blackheath.
Rams director of rugby Seb Reynolds felt Rams’ first-half display set the platform for their brilliant 42-22 National One triumph at Blackheath.
Despite conceding an early converted try scored by Alex Noot, the visitors hit back with Fraser Honey adding the extras to two Henry Bird finishes before he was harshly yellow carded, Ollie Walliker crossing for Club at the end of the first period for 14-12.
A Mark Cooke penalty put Blackheath in front, but Rams dominated the second half with Honey again on target after James Baker and Ollie Monye touched down.
The hosts continued to battle, Will Davis going over before Cooke converted to make it 28-22 with 10 minutes remaining, only for a fabulous Axel Kalling-Smith try and one from Charlie Robson to round out a terrific win.
And while there was no doubt the impact the replacements made – Ant Marris and Baker gave the hosts’ scrum a torrid time.
Reynolds said: “I was pleased with the first-half performance because Blackheath are a quality side, littered with ex-Premiership, Heineken Cup players, and while we didn’t start the strongest, we came back well after they scored a good try.
“We spoke during the week about how we had to enforce our tempo on the game, and it wasn’t evident in the first 15 minutes, they were in the ascendancy, but we back our guys and got our moments in the end.
“I felt we were building as the half went on and despite having to weather a storm with the yellow card, we came through that, and it was the starters who set it up for those who came off the bench to finish it well.
“(The replacements) were important and I know they would want to be starting, but it brought what we wanted, there were some great performances and James McRae was outstanding.”
Among those to catch the eye was second row Colin Thomson who produced one of his best performances in a Rams’ shirt. Reynolds continued: “He brought the physicality and was excellent.
“It’s a nice period in his rugby because he’s got the opportunity and going with it. We’ve always known he’s a good player from the days when he played for Berkshire Under 20s and won the County Championship at Twickenham – he was quality then and he’s still quality now – so it doesn’t surprise me, and he just brought what he can.
“We’ve got a lot of good players around the squad, and Colin’s had to be patient, but he’s taking the chance.”
Dead-eye Honey was another to take kudos, landing six conversions from six and throwing a beauty of a pass to set Robson away at the end, with the DoR delighted by the way he feels his side are improving.
He continued: “It was always going to take time for this team to come together and in doing so you’re going to have to take losses, and we’ll have more, that’s just the way rugby goes – if it was simple every week it wouldn’t be worth it and this league is tough.
“But there’s more to come and we’ll keep plugging away.”
Last term’s Coaches’ Player of the Season Bird made an instant impact on his return from injury and Reynolds said: “It was brilliant to have Henry back in and he’s come into a refreshed back three – he sent me an emoji during the week of an old man between two babies – and that was our back three! “But he’s got the confidence in his own ability to get excited by that and he helped those guys, but they also invigorate the more experienced players, so it’s nice.”
And with the Titans completing a 38-33 success against Club’s 2nd XV earlier in the afternoon, the DoR saved his last words to pay tribute to the hosts, ending: “Blackheath are a superb club and this is a great place to come, I like their coaching team and Shanners (James Shanahan) is a top guy.
“It was great to have two games, a brilliant day, and we’re very pleased.”
Rams welcome third-placed Plymouth Albion to Old Bath Road in the final home game before Christmas on Saturday (3pm).
By Richard Ashton