Match Report
Heath RUFC (18) vs Sandal RUFC (25)
Saturday 8 September 2007
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Heath 2nds only just lose out.

Reporter: Spud Taylor.
Dated: 30 November -0001
Well. The rugby season has arrived once more. Hoorah!! Heath 2nd xv began their season with a home game against Sandal, in a Yorkshire One Merit Table fixture. It was always going to be interesting to see how the boys fared after their promotion last season. The game was played on a firm, dry pitch on a warm, sunny day with only a slight breeze. Heath outside half, Mark GARSIDE, kicked off towards the Elland end of the ground. Unfortunately, the kick was far too central and the Sandal backs showed their intent by running the ball straight back at Heath.The threat was quelled and the game was fairly even in the first 10 minutes. From a Sandal kick through, the ball was run back with interest by winger, Colin HEWISON, who, after being tackled, released the ball to the supporting centre, Gavin WIGGINS, who in turn continued to make good ground before the move was brought to a halt. However, referee, Keith RHODES, brought play back and awarded a penalty for a high tackle on Colin HEWISON. Oliver COOK then just pulled his attempt at goal to the left of the posts and the score remained 0-0. Heath continued to press and were awarded a penalty some 20 yards from the Sandal line and Oliver COOK made no mistake this time. 3-0 after 13 minutes. The Sandal backs were always attempting to run the ball but their execution was such that no real pressure was being put on the home line; that is until after 20 minutes, they were awarded a penalty for offside and following a good kick to touch, clean line out ball was taken and the ball was spun down the line where the outside centre made good ground and when he was tackled just short of the line, the outside half was up in support to take the final pass and score an unconverted try in the corner. The score was now 3-5. The Sandal back line had shown exactly what they could do so it was essential that the home backs pushed up quickly in a line in an attempt to cut down their space. From the kick off, the Sandal backs again attempted to run the ball back and they created an overlap on their right but the pass was intercepted by Colin HEWISON who sprinted to the line from 50 yards out to score an unconverted try in the corner for Heath to retake the lead, 8-5. Sandal still held the upper hand in open play and, on one occasion, a try was prevented by a superb recovery tackle by scrum half, Matthew HALLETT, who even managed to steal the ball and clear the danger. This was a typical example of the young scrum half’s efforts in the first half. Sandal had an opportunity to level the scores before half time but the penalty kick was missed. Prop Dave ALLEN retired with a leg injury just before half time, being replaced by Paul SHAW. The referee then brought to an end a fairly low key, error-ridden first half with the score at 8-5. Mark GARSIDE left the fray to be replaced by John LYONS causing a big shake up in the Heath back division. Sandal immediately put the home boys under pressure and play was concentrated in the Heath 22 m area. The home team displayed excellent defensive qualities and kept the Sandal boys at bay for 10-12 minutes. However, after a succession of penalties, Sandal elected for a scrum and the number 8 picked up and drove 5 yards out and when he was tackled the ball was passed to the left winger who scored an unconverted try in the corner. 8-10. Heath knew that they would have to break the shackles that had been placed upon then immediately. However, Sandal continued to run the ball whenever possible and they were further rewarded in the 54th minute when the centre made a break and ran through a couple of tackles before being brought down.The ball was quickly recycled and a try was scored some 20 yards to the side of the posts. The conversion from the scrum half was successful. The score was now 8-17 and it was starting to look ominous, the Sandal back line creating problems on a regular basis. Michael STEAD then replaced Neil SMURTHWAITE. Heath then dug-in and had a very good period of pressure in the Sandal ‘22’. A number of penalties were conceded leading to the sinbinning of a Sandal prop for persistent offending. It was now down to Heath to make the most of their extra man advantage. Their pressure was rewarded with a penalty in the home '22' which was duly converted by Oliver COOK. 11-17 after 67 minutes. Captain Emlyn JAMES then had to leave the field with a leg injury to be replaced by Tim COOK. Again this forced a reshuffle in the team. However, Heath continued to dominate proceedings and they took the lead in the 73rd minute. Matthew HALLETT, who was now playing outside half, received the ball from a scrum in his own half and made a superb kick some 50 yards upfield which found touch 5 yards from the Sandal line. Although the visitors won the line out, the scrum half knocked the ball forward and after a scramble, Paul SHAW was able to pounce on the loose ball to score a try near to the corner flag. Oliver COOK kicked a superb conversion to give Heath the lead 18-17. Sandal came back, as was to be expected, and they were awarded a penalty for failing to release in the tackle some 40 yards out just slightly to the side of the posts. The kick was straight and true and Sandal were now in front, 18-20. So, four minutes to play and anybody’s game. Sandal then retained possession and looked towards kicking the ball deep into the Heath half out of harms way. From one of these kicks, winger Rob OWEN was dragged into touch by his neck by one of the Sandal players who was penalised and subsequently sinbinned for informing the referee that he did not agree with his decision!! Heath managed to get into the Sandal ‘22’ but the resulting line out was won by Sandal and the outside half made 50 yards with an excellent touch finder to relieve the pressure. From the line out, Sandal won the ball and it was moved down the back line and although the centre was stopped just short of the line, one of his team mates was there in support to pick up and score under the posts. The kick was missed and the referee brought proceedings to an end. The final score was Heath 18 v 25 Sandal. Although this was a disappointing start to the season, result wise, all 19 lads who turned out gave 100% effort and commitment throughout the game. At 8-17 early in the second half and Sandal dominating, the Heath boys showed a superb team spirit and togetherness which they have obviously carried over from last season. Thanks very much to all the boys and also the home spectators who gave the boys excellent encouragement throughout. Here’s looking forward to next Saturdays game away at Huddersfield YMCA where we will strive to get our first ‘W’ of the season. Man of the match awards went to Matthew HALLETT who had a good game at both scrum half and outside half and prop, Rick CARTER, who went about his business in his usual quiet, unassuming manner.



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