15 Sam Fletcher 14 Joe Morrison 13 Jack Malthouse 12 Ezra Hinchliffe 11 Elliott Spiers 10 Chris Johnson 9 Dom Walsh 1 Chris Moore 2 Alex McFadden 3 Josh Crickmay 4 Saif Boussaada 5 Ben Stringer 6 Dan Fleming 7 Harvey Keighley-Payne 8 Tom Clough 16 Dan Cole 17 Jonny Cole 18 Jack Pilcher
Harvey Keighley-Payne 2 try Joe Morrison 1 try Dom Walsh 1 try Chris Johnson 3 cons
Heath made the long trip up the A1 to take on Blaydon, looking to extend their unbeaten run, against a team that had only lost one game at home all season. There were a few changes to the team; with Sam Fletcher starting at full back, Elliott Spiers returning on the wing and the forwards seeing Ben Stringer replace the unavailable Peter Hampshire with Dan Fleming slotting in at flanker. The bench looked strong with Dan Cole sitting alongside brother Jonny with the powerful Jack Pilcher making up the trio.
Conditions were perfect as bright sunshine greeted the teams in what was going to be a difficult challenge for Heath, with all pundits on 'the forum' tipping a home win. However, Heath had other ideas and after kicking off Blaydon punted the ball into touch. From the line out Ben Stringer soared high to collect and the resulting drive enabled Harvey Keighley-Payne to emerge with the ball for a try, converted by Chris Johnson, 7-0 with two minutes played and the perfect start!
Heath continued with a superb break from Elliott Spiers who linked up with the supporting Ezra Hinchliffe but his final pass to Dom Walsh was short and a certain try was missed. Blaydon were struggling to contain Heath in the opening minutes but they were playing an open game and went in search of opening their account and it was the visitors who were now under the cosh. With fifteen minutes on the clock a loose Heath scrum saw Blaydon's Clarkson pounce, scooping up the ball and scoring a converted try and the scores were level.
The home side were now playing some slick rugby but Heath dug deep in defence, as well as breaking free in attack, as the game ebbed and flowed. Just before the half hour mark Heath made changes with The Cole brothers and Jack Pilcher sent on replacing Dan Fleming, Sam Fletcher and Josh Crickmay, while Saif Boussadda replaced his boots!!! A super clearance kick from Dan Cole with his first touch of the ball saw Heath mount an attack and Joe Morrison and Jack Malthouse linked well before Morrison waltzed over for an unconverted try, 12-7. Heath were now playing with a lot more confidence and it was Blaydon's turn to be under the cosh.
Chris Johnson and Dom Walsh were running the show as Blaydon were pulled apart and after they had a player sin-binned for a challenge on Elliott Spiers, Heath took advantage. Superb play involving Jonny Cole, Ezra Hinchliffe, Saif Boussaada, Alex McFadden, Harvey Keighley-Payne all linking well eventually saw Hinchliffe slip the ball to the supporting Dom Walsh who waltzed over for a third try, converted by Johnson and Heath extended their lead to 19-7.
Half time arrived leaving the large contingent of Heath faithful to reflect on what had been a great first half of rugby from the boys in gold who fully justified their lead against a bedraggled Blaydon side.
Credit to the home side as they started the second half all guns blazing, but Heath were in no mood to concede anything and were dogged in defence. Crickmay and Fleming returned to the fray as Pilcher and Stringer took a break from the battle as the game intensified and when Heath were awarded a penalty on the hour mark the quick thinking Chris Johnson took a tap which caught the home side off guard and Harvey Keighley-Payne ghosted in to score his second try of the game, converted by Johnson, 26-7 with a quarter of the game left to play.
Blaydon were shell shocked, but kept battling away and, following a card for Josh Crickmay, they took advantage and were rewarded with an un-converted try on sixty-five minutes, 26-12.
It was Heath's turn to feel the pressure and, as the clock wound down, Jack Pilcher was carded and Crickmay returned with five minutes left. Blaydon continued to look for a score but the cool head of Dan Cole made huge yardage with a super kick to take the pressure off. In the final minute Blaydon scored a third unconverted try, but the game was already won and, as the referee blew for full time, Heath had secured yet another maximum points victory.
This was a fine all-round performance from all of the Heath players, who had put in a magnificent effort to fully justify the win. The result sees Heath maintain second spot in the league and today's maximum points mean they are now only five points behind leaders York but, crucially, they have a game in hand.
The squad now have a week off before resuming their challenge with a derby date against local rivals Cleckheaton at North Dean on the 17th See you there!!!!!!!!!!!
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More photos from the game are in Heath Rugby News, here. Enjoy !!