Match Report
West Park Leeds (7) vs Heath RUFC (12)
Saturday 24 February 2007
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Heath cling on to first half lead.

Reporter: Spud Taylor.
Dated: 30 November -0001
Heath 2nd xv. Heath travelled to West Park Leeds for a Merit Table Game with high hopes of a win after last weeks confidence-boosting win over Barnsley. The game was played in sunny, fine conditions with a slight wind blowing directly across the pitch but the playing surface was extremely heavy after the recent rainfall particularly in the “bottom” 22m area. Heath won the toss and elected to play down the slope in the first half. West Park kicked off and the ball failed to travel the required 10 metres but Michael STEAD picked up the ball and set off on a galloping 20 metre run which got Heath on the front foot from the off. Ball was quickly recycled from the ensuing ruck and outside half, Martin SHAW, powered his way through the home defence to get within 15 metres of the home line. Heath were then awarded an attacking scrum at the next ruck and the ball was transferred again to Martin SHAW who made ground to within 5 metres of the line and scrum half, Tom COLLINGE, was up in support to take the pass to score a good try between the sticks. The try was converted by Oliver COOK to give Heath a 7-0 lead after only 90 seconds. The restart failed to travel 10 metres once more and a scrum was awarded to Heath on the halfway line. The ball was won and Heath were on the offensive again. Play was taken into the home “22” and, after good pressure from the forwards, a maul was driven over the line and the ball was placed down for what appeared to be a perfectly good try but the unsighted referee awarded an attacking 5 metre scrum. Heaths’ frustrations were short-lived though. The ball was won and after another good drive by the forwards it was passed to Martin SHAW who used his bulk to score a try some 20 metres to the side of the posts. The conversion was missed but 12-0 after only 5 minutes was an excellent start. The game continued with Heath putting incessant pressure on the home side with all the play taking place in the home “22”. The forwards were making good ground and were dictating matters throughout. However, the home defence was up to the task and held very well for a long period of time. Handling errors and wrong options then crept into the Heath game and it became somewhat of a stalemate, with the Heath attacks being repelled by the home defence. Heath almost increased their lead when a driving maul was once more taken over the line but Oliver COOK was just unable to get the ball to ground. After 30 minutes, Heath attempted to run the ball down the back line but the move broke down some 35 metres from the home line. The ball was picked up by West Park and the home number “8” made good ground up the touchline before offloading to the supporting right winger. He then kicked over the Heath full back and captain, Emlyn JAMES, and it was a straightforward race to the ball between the winger and the retreating Heath defender John DENWOOD. The ball was further kicked on by the winger who was first to the ball to score a well-taken try in the corner. The try was well converted by the outside half to give a score of 12-7. This was the first real occasion that the home side had ventured over the halfway line but it gave Heath a warning of what could happen if they got hold of the ball. Heath continued to press but were unable to increase their lead, Oliver COOK missing a difficult penalty attempt from near the touchline with the last kick of the half. Heath lost hooker, Dave PIGEON, after only 2 minutes of the second half. He had injured his ankle in the first half, soldiered on but was unable to continue. He was replaced by Daniel RAMSDEN who went into the back row with Oliver COOK moving to second row, Neil SMURTHWAITE from second row to prop and Tim COOK taking over the hooking responsibility. After 44 minutes, the ball was won from a scrum in the Heath “22” and Martin SHAW took the ball forward. However, he lost it in contact and Heath were subsequently penalised for not allowing a player to get to his feet. The home outside kicked a very good penalty to make the score 12-10. West Park now had a spring in their steps and their confidence was visibly growing. After 50 minutes, Heath were then dealt a second injury blow when Martin SHAW had to leave the field with a recurrence of his hamstring problem. This allowed the second and final replacement, Alf BAXTER, to enter the fray. Number “8” Karl RABY took over the outside half position, Neil SMURTHWAITE moved to number “8” and Alf took up his position in the front row. Heath were unable to replace Dave PIGEONs’ throwing accuracy in the line out and for the remainder of the second half, the home side were consistently stealing the ball. However, even though the home side were enjoying a large amount of possession, they never really put the Heath defence under any period of constant pressure. However, on one occasion, the home full back set off on a run from just outside his own “22” and showed lightning speed to get all the way up to the Heath “22” but an excellent tackle by the retreating centre, John DENWOOD, brought the run to an abrupt end. Shortly afterwards, Heath were penalised some 40 metres out and the home outside half totally miss hit the penalty attempt which would have given them the lead. Heath worked their way back upfield and managed to get good ball some 35 metres from the home line, the ball was initially moved down the line and Michael STEAD put in a kick to the corner for right wing, Rob OWEN, to chase but the it rolled dead. Heath were then dealt a further blow in the 63rd minute when Daniel RAMSDEN was correctly penalised for a late tackle but was rather harshly dealt with by the referee who placed him in the “sin bin” for 10 minutes. This was now extra pressure on Heath but they held up well in young Daniels’ absence and on his return, the score was the same and there was only 7 minutes to go. For the last few minutes of the game, Heath gained the ascendancy, with the use of good forward driving and an excellent kicking game keeping play in the opponents half. Six minutes of injury time was played but the home side never looked like breaching the Heath defence and the referee blew for “no side”. This was a very strange game indeed. Heath had all of the pressure in the first half but could only turn around 12-7 up. Everything looked set for a very interesting second period with the young West Park team now having the advantage of the slope and Heath knowing that they would have to keep things tight throughout. However, the second half was very much a “stop/start” affair with the referee continually blowing his whistle for countless penalties. The second half was not allowed to flow and both teams were showing visible signs of frustration. Fortunately, all 30 players managed to keep their cool which, in the circumstances, was commendable!! However, once again, the Heath defence was extremely good and overall the victory was deserved. With all of the pressure Heath had in the first half, there is no doubt that they should have gone in at half time with a more substantial lead then 5 points. Before the next game against SELBY, the forwards need to get themselves together to discuss tactics and game plans in order to ensure that such pressure is turned into points. In a game dominated by forwards, man of the match awards go to two of the pack: firstly, Michael STEAD who had a very good combative game in the second row and the consistent performer in the back row, Mark WARRENDER, who, once again, put himself about led by example.



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