ANOTHER FINE RESULT BUT WHAT A BATTLE
YORKSHIRE 1 & YORKSHIRE SHIELD SEMI-FINAL HEATH 37 MIDDLESBROUGH 17
15 Chris Robinson 14 Si Brown 13 Issy Spooner 12 Ezra Hinchliffe 11 Tobias Hinchliffe 10 Dan Cole 9 Michael Reynolds 1 Dave Skinner 2 Alex McFadden 3 Chris Piper 4 Matt Beasty 5 Alex Patrick 6 Jonny Cole 7 Jason Merrie 8 Richard Brown 16 Fergus Marsden 17 Chris Moore 18 Jordan Moana
Heath were forced into making several changes to the side due to un-availabilities and injuries for this double header game against Middlesbrough. Out were Eddie Cartwright and Callum Harrriett-Brown, work commitments, with Luke Saltonstall, hamstring, and Jack Crabtree, illness, also absent so in came Chris Robinson, full back, Tobias Hinchliffe and Si Brown on the wings and returning from injury Ezra Hinchliffe at centre. The pack also saw changes with Chris Piper starting at prop whilst on the bench was Fergus Marsden alongside Chris Moore and Jordan Moana.
In sunny conditions, but with a biting cold wind, Heath were led out by mascots from the successful Under 11 squad who had played a pre-match game against Old Rishworthians at Copley.
Heath started the game and the home pack got quickly into their stride as they attacked the visitors try-line. Alex Patrick was first to show as he released Michael Reynolds after a strong run but the scrum half was bundled into touch with a try beckoning. From the resulting line out Matt Beasty soared high to snatch the ball and Heath drove forwards. Middlesbrough were under pressure and another penalty saw the home side claim the ball again from line-out and as Jason Merrie drove in, the supporting Patrick came up with the ball for a try and Heath led 5-0 with six minutes played. Middlesbrough re-grouped and came back strongly with a penalty from centre Matthew Todd, 5-3, and ten minutes played. The visitors were beginning to mount a wave of attacks with Heath struggling to contain them and when Dan Cole put in a raking clearance to clear the lines the ball was picked up on the half way line by wing Harry Bryce and he danced his way through several attempted tackles before going under the posts for a try, converted by Todd, and Middlesbrough led 10-5 with twenty-five minutes on the clock. The home supporters were beginning to think a shock result could be on the cards. The visitors backs were making inroads into Heaths defence as coach Harrison sent on Chris Moore and Fergus Marsden replacing Beasty and Piper to try and stem the flow but they could not prevent Middlesbrough scoring a second converted try on thirty five minutes when Conner Foley evaded several tackles to go under the posts, converted again by Todd, and a lead of 17-5. Heath went in search of a score and following excellent work from Chris Robinson and Dave Skinner Middlesbrough were under the cosh and gave away a penalty with Dan Cole reducing the arrears 17-8. With half time approaching Heath wanted another score and from a controlled scrum Michael Reynolds and Dan Cole released Chris Robinson and his inside pass to Issy Spooner enabled the centre to go over the line for a converted try and a score of 17-15 with half time whistle blown.
The first half had belonged to Middlesbrough but Heath had managed to keep in the game and started the second half with Jordan Moana replacing Tobias Hinchliffe. Moana went to centre with Issy Spooner moving to the wing. Heath went onto the attack immediately following a brilliant clearance kick from Dan Cole which bobbled into touch. Heath won the throw and Chris Moore drove into the visitors defence followed by surging runs from Moana and Alex McFadden. It was a great start to the second half from Heath but they needed patience to prise open the visitors defence. On fifty-five minutes patience was rewarded when Fergus Marsden went over for a converted try and Heath regained the lead 22-17. Shortly afterwards Jonny Cole received a yellow card and this seemed to inspire Middlesbrough. Matt Beasty returned for Marsden on the hour mark as he tried to shore up the home defence with Middlesbrough looking for a score. Heath managed to prevent any score and went back on the attack following a charging run from Jason Merrie consecutive penalties for Heath saw Dan Cole convert one of these to increase the lead 25-17. Merrie was injured so Piper returned and the side were re-organised again but with Jonny Cole back on he was quickly back into the thick of things to scoop the ball up and score a try on seventy minutes and 30-17 took Heath clear. Heath still had work to do as Middlesbrough would not lie down but the home supporters were treated to the best try of the game as Heath threw the ball around before it eventually ended up with Issy Spooner who went over for a bonus point fourth try, converted by Cole, and a final score of 37-17 saw Heath into the Shield final and five league points in the bag.
As they say a game of two halves but the second belonged to Heath and they deserved the win with strong defensive play to round off an excellent season. It is now onto the play-offs against West Hartlepool at the end of the month followed by the Shield final when they play either Moortown or Old Brodleians in May.
Finally, we had a couple of guest photographers down for the game. Vic Heritage Photographic and Carol Herbert Photographic. Some of their shots accompany the Report and others can be found on their own sites.