Match Report: Saturday 2 September 2017

Reported by Thomas Stanley Walton
FINAL SCORE: Middlesbrough RUFC 31 vs Heath RUFC 43


Heath travelled to league newcomers Middlesborough, looking to get off to a good start in Yorkshire 1 and put in an excellent all round performance - claiming a superb win in a seven try romp. In the squad Heath gave debuts to new signings Jason Merrie, Seifeddine Boussaada and Dave Skinner and also welcomed back ex-colts Jack Crabtree and Peter Birkett as Coach Dave Harrison looked for some solidity from a very good looking squad of players under the leadership on the  field of play from new captain Ian Downsborough.

It was the best possible start for Heath following early exchanges between Jason Merrie and Jordan Bradbrook whose superb kick to the corner quickly set up Heaths first attack. Heath won the ball from the lineout, a feature of most of the game, and the Heath forwards battered the Middlesborough defence and prop Chris Piper popped up with a try after 4 minutes, converted by Ezra Hinchliffe, and the visitors were 7-0 up. From the re-start Hinchliffe then kicked for position and once again Heath had possession and further pressure saw Si Brown go over in the corner for an unconverted try and a 12-0 lead on 10 minutes. There was no stopping the Heath onslaught with Middlesborough at sixes and sevens and it came as no surprise to the travelling band of Heath supporters when another clever kick from Jack Crabtree saw full back Eddie Cartwright join the line and slip a pass to Jason Merrie who then off loaded to Ezra Hinchliffe for a try, converted by Hinchliffe, and Heath were cruising 19-0 with a quarter of the game gone. The home side were struggling to get into the game trying to find a way through a solid Heath defence who were putting in some ferocious tackles but Middlesborough did manage to break the deadlock on 28 minutes when wing Moloney went over to reduce the arrears 19-5, the conversion hitting the post and bouncing clear. The home side were beginning to find their rhytmn and Heath had to fight hard to prevent further scores but another huge clearance from Crabtree saw Heath on the attack. With Chris Moore, Chris Piper, Matt Beasty, Olly Cook and Richard Brown battering the home defence Crabtree picked up the ball and his clever switch ball to Ezra Hinchliffe saw the centre skip in for a converted try on 34 minutes and Heath were back in the driving seat 26-5. Heath fumbled the ball from the re-start and Middlesborough looked to capitalise and with a try imminent they were pulled back for a forward pass as a try went begging, a let off for Heath and yet another mistake from the home side. Matt Beasty made way for Tunisian international Boussaada and he was quickly into the thick of the action as Heath played out the first half well in control.

The second half began as the first when another Middlesborough mistake saw Ezra Hinchliffe pick up the loose ball before throwing an outrageous dummy and then releasing Si Brown to go over for a bonus point try 31-5 after 42 minutes. Middlesborough kept trying and eventually were rewarded with a try on 50 minutes to bring the score back to 31-10, Piper made way for Dave Skinnner, and shortly after the home side scored another converted try pulling the score back to 17-31 with a quarter  of the game remaining. Alex McFadden and Ben Maxwell continued to put in the tackles as Middlesborough looked to find their feet and cut out the mistakes but when they were caught offside Hinchliffe's excellent kick to touch saw Heath win line out ball and Peter Birkett came up with a cheeky try, converted by Hinchliffe and Heath were back in the driving seat 38-17 with fifteen minutes remaining. Eddie Cartwright made way for wing Callum Harriet-Brown and Heath re-shuffled positions Bradbrook moving to full back and Merrie came in to centre. This took time to settle and Middlesborough moved quickly to score a converted try on 70 minutes 38-24. Middleborough continued to press but when Harriett-Brown and Merrie linked well a clever cross field kick found Si Brown collect and despite the efforts of the home defence he managed to go over for his hat trick try for Heath to lead 43-24 with minutes remaining. Middlesborough were not afraid to keep knocking on Heaths defensive wall and were rewarded with a converted try to reduce the arrears to 43-31 but it was too late and Heath came away with a well deserved opening day victory.

Coach Dave Harrison was well pleased with the performance. “I thought we started really well and the hard work put in over the pre-season showed out on the park today as we held our shape and showed our fitness levels were high. I was also pleased with the new lads who have come in and given us a new dimension. Birkett and Crabtree did all the right things and our set piece was solid. We can only build on this platform of Giant forwards and Killer backs as we prepare for the visit of Rishies next week”.

Report features in Hx Courier at:

Tries 7 Drop Goals 0
Penalty Tries 0 Penalty Goals 0
Conversions 4 Attendance 200
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