Utilising classic “80’s” rugby, Heath pull through in excellent battling performance
1. Cook 2. Puttick 3. Morley 4. Dance
5. Milner 6. Wilby 7. Dawes 8. Wheelwright
9. Cole© 10. Reynolds 11. Bruce 12 Malik 13 Ramsden 14 Wilkinson 15 Saltonstall
Replacements: Whitworth, Owen, Nicholson, Ali, Raby, James
Heath travelled to Copley for their 2nd consecutive away game at the start of the 2017 season. Conditions were bright with a hint of drizzle in the air. Selection headaches led to Heath also having a very strong bench and an improved performance over last week, was on the cards.
Heath kicked off and were immediately on the attack through their much larger pack, an attacking lineout was forced, and the forwards drove forward, in a style that was to set the pattern for large parts of the game.
Well aware that Rishies backs caused problems in all 3 games last season, which Heath won, forward power was brought to the fore. The excellent Cook, was prominent in several breaks. A great early run form Ramsden was well defended, and the ball lost forward, to give our opponents a chance to clear from the scrum. However, Heaths pack was dominant, as it was throughout the match. Securing the ball against the head, Reynolds neatly chipped through for a lineout on the 22. Dawes ran through supported by Morley and Dance, but was held up short. Rishies were penalised for not releasing in the tackle and a quick tap saw Cook, drop over in the corner. Cole missed the very difficult conversion. 0-5
Again, Heath attacked from the restart, Bruce crashed through, but Heath fouled and conceded one of a series of needless penalties. Rishies pressured with a 5m lineout, but again Dawes, who always seems to lift his game against his old club, and Cook drove them back. The ball was turned over and Cole cleared to near halfway.
Another penalty to Rish and the same outcome, with Cook again securing the ball for Cole. Three penalties in a row, brought a warning from the official of possible harsher sanctions, took our opponents to the 5m line again, the ball was spread along the Rishies line and a penalty conceded in front of the posts, which they easily converted 3-5
From the restart, Cook secured the ball again and drove for the 22, Rishies turned over but knocked on, conceding scrum in a dangerous position. Puttick and Wheelwright drove into contact, and with the ball going dead, Heath were awarded a kickable chance, for offside, which Cole duly converted 3-8
Saltonstall collected the restart and executed a huge punt deep into the other half, Wilkinson and Bruce chased, but Cook who was following caught his opponent high, as he bent into the tackle. Rishies failed to make an impression from the resultant penalty and Half Time was blown.
Half Time Rishworthians 3 – Heath 8
Cole called for focus in the 2nd half and to do the basics well, as that was reaping rewards. No subs were made by Heath
Rishies kicked off, collected by the impressive Reynolds, he cleared to the Rish 22 to keep pressure up on the opponents. Heath stole at the lineout and this time it was Cole who chipped through, Puttick secured great ball from the breakdown and found Saltonstall in space for another try wide 3-13
The extras were once again missed due to the tight angle.
Saltonstall was again present from the restart, making up many yards in returning the ball, when held up he tried a neat pass to Cole, who was unlucky to lose the ball forward in contact. Dawes was replaced by Nicholson
Cook was straight into the fray, setting up a ball for the backs to have a rare run. Malik looked to have found Bruce in space, but the ball squirted out of his hands and into touch.
James replaced Dance and Raby replaced the hardworking Milner. These changes seemed to unsettle Heath, as they seemed to switch off for the next 15 minutes, Rishies were managing to get the ball out to their dangerous backline. Their left winger was gaining ground on every run, sometimes due to poor tacking but also due to speed of movement. Rishies ran in the first of 2 very quick tries, the first of which was excellently converted. 10-13
Rishies again were awarded a penalty and from the 5m lineout, we infringed again. The official true to his word, chose to single out Nicholson to take a 10-minute break. From the set piece Rishies spread to their speedy centre, who evaded two poor tackles to cross under the posts, to make the extras easy. 17-13.
Heath were now well and truly in a battle, with 5 minutes still left on the sin bin. It was time for the experienced heads of James, Wilby, Ramsden, Morley and Cole to rally the troops, confidence was still high, that a result was within Heaths reach, by going back to basics. The next Rishies attack was repelled, and Cole cleared to the oppositions 22. From the lineout, Ramsden, Malik and Bruce combined well, crossed into the try area, the final pass was adjudged forward, but play called back for an earlier Rishies knock on. Heath drove for the line, but when the move stalled, Cole took his chance to spread the ball wide and Saltonstall was on hand to cross the line. The conversion was missed and Heath moved into the narrowest of leads 17-18.
The forwards were on the march again, from the restart, Wilby always in the middle of the fray, forcing a penalty on half way but were then marched forward another 10 for a verbal offence by Rishworthians. Cole setup another 5m lineout for the pack to impress, but Rishies cleverly chose not to defend the drive, and as Heath had taken the ball to the back of the maul, they were penalised. Dance replaced Morley.
From the resultant scrum deep in the Rishies half, Heath drove and drew a penalty, this time the lineout was well taken and Cook drove over 17-23. A thunderous kick took the difference to a two-score margin with the clock ticking down. The drama was not over though, Wheelwright saw a late yellow for a further offence, so Ali joined for extra presence in the backs
Heath saw out the remaining few minutes on the attack and the official blew for time.
An excellent battling performance by the whole team, who are starting to knit into a well drilled team. The pack dominated when needed and although running back play was sparse, they converted the chances when they came.
Rishworthians 17 – Heath 25