Match Report
York R.I. RUFC (10) vs Heath RUFC (17)
Saturday 13 January 2007
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Last minute shuffle doesn't stop Heath winning.

Reporter: Spud Taylor.
Dated: 30 November -0001
Heath 2nds. Last Saturday, the 2nd xv travelled to Knottingley to play a Merit Table Game. Unfortunately, the home team were unable to raise a side and Heath returned home with the 2 points - but this was no substitute for match practice. The boys travelled to York R I this week, to play a side that they had beaten convincingly at home earlier in the season. The Heath pack was hit by 3 late withdrawals in the back 5, which led to a reshuffle of the side. This for an important Merit Table game, where a victory would cement Heaths’ lead at the top of the table. Heath won the toss and decided to play up the slight slope, with the wind against them. York RI kicked off and Heath started very brightly indeed. They took clean possession and made ground upfield through both backs and forwards. Heath kept possession well and made good ground into the opponents “22”. The home side was penalised some 5 metres from their own line and the ball was kicked to touch for an attacking 5 metre line out. The ball was taken cleanly and the forwards drove their counterparts over the line for Emlyn JAMES, playing in the unaccustomed position of number 8, to claim a good touchdown in the corner. The difficult conversion was missed, but 5-0 after 6 minutes was an excellent start. However, with Martin SHAW, Gavin WIGGINS and David FREEMAN receiving treatment to muscle injuries and only Alf BAXTER being available on the bench, this was a worrying time for the Heath boys. York RI immediately got themselves back into the game and the giant home number 8, JOLL, was causing the home defence problems with his storming runs. The home side was dominating possession but the back line was unable to hurt Heath with some pedestrian handling and running. The home right wing, GARNETT, looked very dangerous when in possession of the ball and after a couple of runs, he seemed to be heading for the corner, but a superb covering tackle was made by full back, Rob OWEN, bringing the run to an abrupt halt. The majority of the game was being played in Heath territory but York never looked particularly threatening, other than through right wing, GARNETT. He made a further run and when the ball was flicked back inside for his supporting teammate, Heath’s scrum half, Matthew HALLETT, was on hand to force the ball over the line for an attacking 5-metre scrum. Heath defended this well and then made good progress away from their own “22”. On 35 minutes, the home side opened their account with a well-taken try, after good, crisp passing down the backs, the ball reaching GARNETT who scored some 10 metres in from the touchline. The conversion was missed. 5-5 and half time soon followed with no extra additions to the tally. Heath had defended well in the first half and started the second with the plan to keep the home side in their own “22” by tactical kicking. However, it was the home side who got off to the better start and they were rewarded in the 48th minute when that man GARNETT made a good run up the touchline and, although he was tackled metres from the line, number 8, JOLL, was up in support to take the inside pass to score a well-taken try near the corner. Again, the conversion was missed. 5-10. The home side then enjoyed a dominant period of play with both forwards and backs looking good in possession and their confidence visibly growing by the minute. Yet, the Heath lads stuck to their task and defended their line very, very well. Although the boys were having their fair share of possession, they were not making good ground - with too many kicks going straight to an opponent and putting themselves under pressure once more. However, on 61 minutes, they regained the lead when the ball was transferred down the back line and centre, David CRAIGIE found right wing, Darren FERMOYLE, in space some 40 metres from the line. Darren set off on one of his powerful, quick, mazy runs and he left a number of defenders in his wake as he scored an excellent individual try by the posts. Oliver COOK successfully kicked the conversion. 12-10. This appeared to spur the Heath lads on and they immediately went back on the attack from the kick off in a confident manner. Play remained in the home side’s half and it was Heath who were now enjoying an excellent spell of possession rugby. Their pressure led to a breach in the home defence in the 67th minute when, from an attacking ruck, Emlyn JAMES put in a deft kick to the left corner behind the flat home defence and left wing, Gavin WIGGINS, gathered the difficult bouncing ball on the half volley to score an excellent try in the corner. The difficult conversion was just missed. 17-10. The home sides’ heads visibly dropped and Heath then continued in the same vein spending time in their opponents half playing good, controlled rugby. For an unknown reason, the referee blew his whistle for “no side” after only 32 minutes of play in the second half. At this point, it appeared that this would only deny Heath the opportunity to increase their lead. With a number of late withdrawals, a reshuffle of the side and a number of players carrying niggling injuries, this was an excellent performance by Heath who, once again, showed tremendous fighting spirit and a dogged determination and will to win this game. Man of the match awards were given to Dave PIGEON in the forwards and Rob OWEN in the backs. Dave PIGEON had a superb game, getting around the pitch well, putting in some superb tackles and stripping the opponents of the ball on a number of occasions. Rob OWEN played in the unaccustomed role of full back and he put in a number of excellent tackles, particularly in the first half, when he provided an excellent last line of defence. He also showed his attacking skills on numerous occasions. This was a very hard-earned victory for Heath and they maintain their position at the top of the Merit Table. This stands them in good stead for next weeks local derby against Halifax Vandals 1st xv which promises to be a good test for the boys.



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