Away points on the board, but work to do
1. Dance 2. Skinner 3. Morley 4. James
5.Milner 6. Wilby 7. Dawes 8. Wheelwright
9. Cole 10. Reynolds 11. Malik 12. Bruce 13. Wilkinson 14. Ali 15. Saltonstall
Burbidge, Owen, Nicholson, Raby
Conditions were bright and sunny upon Heaths visit to Yarnbury, in their first game in the Northern Championship, after promotion last season. Heavy showers were however forecast later in the day.
With several new faces adding competition for places, and good pre-season training and performances, hopes were high of a fast start from Heath. Yarnbury started the brighter with quick forays into the Heath half, and scrappy exchanges saw several handling errors and ball turned over in contact. An early bright point for Heath was their dominance in the scrum, each time pushing Yarnbury back, although they seemed each time to still get ball to their backs. From one break, very poor tackling by the Heath backline, allowed an attacking move within 10 metres of the Heath line.
The ball was knocked on by Yarnbury and the ball cleared for Jack Bruce to chase, he sustained a head injury, but regained his feet to retake his position, our opponents left wing was less lucky and had to be replaced due to a pulled hamstring. Heath were starting to impose themselves on the match with several promising runs, but the handling errors were proving costly, leading to a number attacking moves failing to produce any reward.
Yarnbury themselves had the first scoring opportunity, when a penalty was awarded within kicking range. The kick went to the right of the post and Heath cleared via a 22 drop out. Reynolds then chased a through kick, and was unlucky not to reach it before the covering defender, a lineout was conceded though, giving the pack a chance to set a platform for an attack. Securing good ball, Milner was on hand to show excellent body position and crash through for an opening score, leaving Cole an easy conversion to add the extra’s 0-7
Yarnbury's restart failed to travel 10, and from the scrum, Cole deftly kicked through to apply more pressure on the 22. Yarnbury did manage to clear from the set piece, but Saltonstall ran the ball back, releasing Wilkinson who was stopped, by a seemingly high tackle yards from the line. The pack recycled the ball and Malik executed a perfect chip, for Saltonstall to touch down out wide. Cole missed the very difficult conversion 0-12
Hopes were now high that Heath could move on to a convincing win and bonus point. Skinner and Wheelwright, were enjoying success in driving through their opponent’s line, but once again handling let us down.
Yarnbury then had a sustained period of pressure, resulting in a succession of penalties 5 metres out. Heath held strong and after a 10 mins they manage to force a penalty from Yarnbury to clear the pressure. James was replaced by Raby, after he seemed to be pulled up by the official for several of the offences, maybe a case for mistaken identity in a couple of them. Yarnbury came back again, taking advantage of more poor tackling out wide, something that will have to improve and worked on in training.
Another text book move through the backs, saw Malik chip through again, Wilkinson collected and despite the attention of two defenders, he twisted himself over the try line, Cole again converted.
The official blew for half time and whilst Cole gave the team talk, a torrential downpour including some hail, made the conditions less conducive for an improvement in handling and report writing.
With the 2nd period kicking off, a bonus point try seemed within reach, Heath were having the best of some disjointed play, but the ball seemed to have become even more difficult to pass through the hands successfully.
Milner was unlucky to have what looked like a certain try ruled out, when the official adjudged that the covering defender had touched down a kick through first. Then Wilkinson crossed after good work along the backs, only to be pulled back for a harsh knock on. Ali had a storming run, stopped 10 metres out after utilising his speed and size to great effect.
Milner and Dawes took a well-earned break to be replaced by Owen and Nicholson. Owen was quickly into the fray to run a great line behind Cole, only to knock on. Next it was Dance’s turn to show a turn of speed and break for the line, he was once again pulled down when nearing the line. Luck seemed to be in short supply, and to their credit Yarnbury, were defending well when needed.
Ali was replaced by Burbidge and James returned to give Wheelwright a rest. Heath despite their efforts in the 2nd period could not break the deadlock, and the game petered out, without further incident the official blew for time.
This was a promising start, and if luck in a couple of cases and handling in others, had been better, the score could have been more convincing