2nds succumb in final minutes after great performance
1. Dance. 6. Nicholson 11 Malik
2. Skinner 7. Dawes 12 Ali
3. Whitworth 8. Wheelwright 13 Wilkinson
4. Milner 9. Cole 14 Bruce
5. James 10 Reynolds 15 Ramsden
Subs: Raby, Burbidge, Hammond, Webb .
Keighley visited West Vale for the 2nd teams first home game of the season. A stern test was expected from Keighley’s large side, both in numbers and stature. Both teams were welcomed by a large downpour during the warm up and for the start of the game. With Heath missing 3 regulars in the pack, it was time to demonstrate strength in depth and for replacements to grab their chance to impress.
Heath kicked off and more that matched their opponents, in early exchanges with the Keighley large pack. Although they were struggling in the initial scrums, Heath were enjoying considerable success in driving from lineouts. Whitworth’s accuracy with the throws was allowing Wheelwright, in particular, to set a good platform for moves upfield.
Malik had an early run stopped, but accurate kicking from Ramsden and Reynolds, gave the backs plenty of opportunity to chase and keep the pressure on. The first real scoring chance of the game fell to Heath, Wilkinson chased a Reynolds punt, and forced the covering full back into touch, only 5m out. With a penalty awarded to Heath from the throw, they elected for a scrum. With possession secured, the ball made its way to Bruce, who was held up close to the line. Keighley infringed and from the 5m lineout, Heath knocked on. Ramsden collected the kick from the scrum, and Wilkinson again chased to force a rushed kick, from Keighley.
The ball was turned over and cleared to halfway, but another chip through won a lineout on the 22. Heath drove, Milner broke loose but was held, the ball was recycled and James had charge, when he was held, he managed to offload to Malik, who crashed over under the posts, to give Cole and easy conversion 7-0
Keighley came back strong from the restart, forcing 2 penalties and advancing towards the Heath try line. Heath forwards defended valiantly, but Keighley’s power showed when they themselves managed to cross to the right of the posts, leaving them an equally kickable chance 7-7
Heath kicked off and once again Reynolds and Malik linked well, to gain good ground. From another 5m scrum, gained when the ball was deemed unplayable, James and Dance were held, and when Cole released Wilkinson on the blind side, he was bundled into touch and the chance was gone. Half time was blown soon after.
Half Time 7-7
Nicholson was given a breather and Raby took the field.
Keighley started the 2nd period the stronger, with extra weight and experience added to the scrum via replacements. This was starting to cause Heath problems, and Wheelwright and Cole were finding it difficult to get good ball from the multitude of scrums.
James then left the field for Burbidge and Whitworth left for Hammond.
Keighley were still making great runs and drives but Heaths defence was exceptional, forcing handling errors with great tackling. They let themselves down however shortly after, when reacting to a penalty they were marched a further 10 giving Keighley a very kickable chance which they took 7-10
Heath regrouped and another great forward move, allowed Reynolds an offload to Malik who forced an attacking scrum. This time the pack were able to just hold on enough for Wheelwright to pick from the base and cross out wide. Cole converted a very difficult conversion to add the extras 14-10.
Webb replaced Bruce
The high impact game was starting to tell on Heath, and a fast break from Keighley’s winger was only stopped when Ramsden tackled strongly and won a lineout. Heath knocked on again, and Keighley drove from the scrum, with the ball then spread across the line and back, Webb was left to mark three men, managing to get the ball to ground, he was unlucky to see yellow, when adjudged to have handled the ball in the ruck. With the clock running down Keighley chose to take the scrum and a strong drive saw them score and take the conversion. 14-17
Nicholson replaced Dawes
Heath held out until Webb returned and focused on getting near enough to Keighley line to either force a penalty or even a try. Reynolds and Malik had great runs stopped and Ali also had a storming run well defended. Probably the best chance to score went begging when a great chip from Cole just evaded the chasing Wilkinson, when it bounced just over his head. Keighley held on well and turned the pressure into attack with huge kicks. From one chase they forced a final penalty, and Keighley elected to take the penalty, as only 40 seconds remained. Heath hoped the chance would miss and remain in play but our opponents impressive kicked claimed the extra 3.
Time was blown and Heath consoled themselves with a bonus point loss.
This was a great performance despite the score. Keighley demonstrated why they are one of the strongest teams we face (after finishing 3rd last season), focus must now turn to getting back to winning ways next week against Selby. Every member of the team can hold their head up.