CHINNOR produced a battling display to start their 2019/20 campaign with a narrow victory at Blackheath.
Second-half tries from Tom Fidler and Ofisa Treviranus proved enough as the Oxfordshire side dug deep to see off their battling hosts in the National League 1 opener at Well Hall.
Chinnor’s stronger and heavier pack dominated proceedings throughout, but Blackheath were able to cause problems with some fine running rugby.
The visitors led 17-7 with 52 minutes on the clock, but the hosts set up a nervy finish, closing to within two points in the latter stages.
However, Chinnor, who had named ten debutants in their starting XV, saw out the game well to kick-off their campaign with a win.
Matt Williams’s side made a strong start, dominating possession and territory in the early stages, before opening up a 3-0 lead thanks to fly-half Laurence May’s fifth-minute penalty.
Blackheath were soon reduced to 14 men, when prop Danny Herriott was sin-binned for his part in an altercation with hooker Nick Selway.
Chinnor looked to make the extra man count and put their hosts under severe pressure. They looked certain to extend their lead, but Selway was held up as they were unable to make the most of a succession of penalties.
The beginning of the match was stop-start, but Blackheath, despite being pinned in their own half for 28 minutes, kept the score at 3-0.
The hosts thought they had taken the lead from their first foray into the Chinnor half, but a penalty had already been awarded to the visitors when Markus Burcham dotted down.
Blackheath then threatened again when Leo Fielding broke from his own half and fed Tom Burns, but Chris Elder did brilliantly to turn over possession.
However, the hosts struck on the brink of half-time when scrum-half Jack Daly darted over following a lineout and fly-half Mark Cooke converted from the touchline to make it 7-3.
Chinnor responded well and piled on the pressure at the start of the second period.
Blackheath stopped Selway just short, before prop Fidler forced his way over from close range, May converting, to put the Oxfordshire side 10-7 in front after 45 minutes.
The hosts conceded a succession of penalties, which allowed Chinnor, led by their mighty pack, to continue to build momentum and their lead was extended to ten points on 52 minutes when No 8 Treviranus stretched over, May adding the extras.
But Blackheath refused to lie down and they reduced the arrears to five points with 14 minutes to go when Alex Pickersgill raced over after being released by Jake Lloyd.
A Cooke penalty then saw Chinnor’s lead cut to 17-15 on 71 minutes, giving the home faithful hope of a comeback.
But the visitors controlled the latter stages well, while Blackheath were reduced to 14 for the final few moments when Tom Williams was sin-binned.
Blackheath: Fielding, Lloyd, Pickersgill, Burcham, Dowsett, Cooke, Daly; Williams, Perks, Herriott, Catt, Stradwick, Owen, Poole, Burns.
Replacements: Hamilton, Seward, Scott, Liebenberg, Staff.
Chinnor: Harries, Worrall, Elder, Barnes, Goss, May, Flinn; Fidler, Selway, Jeannot, Thomas, Sheriff, Dancer, Kirwan, Treviranus.
Replacements: George, McNulty, W Ryan, Watson, Yawayawa.