Top notch performance, brings another big win!
Heath travelled to Shay Lane for the second week in a row and put in a clinical performance to secure another big win to move up in the league to third place behind leaders York and Scarborough. Back from injury came Jordan Bradbrook and Peter Birkett while Eddie Cartwright had a start on the wing to replace the unavailable Si Brown. The Heath forwards saw Paddy Kerr retain his place, due to the suspension of Chris Moore and the return to the starting position of Alex McFadden at hooker and the influential Richard Brown. On the bench, James Watson, Cameron Ramsden and Martyn Barnes completed the line-up.
On a cold, damp, windy day Salem kicked off with the wind at their backs and immediately put pressure on the visitors defence. On 5 minutes after Callum Harriett-Brown intercepted a Salem pass he set off for the line but was brought down by a high tackle but no action was taken by the referee and a penalty was awarded. Ezra Hinchliffe found touch and from the line out a second penalty was awarded. From the resulting line out Fergus Marsden latched onto the ball and the drive from the Heath forwards, led by Ian Downsborough, saw Richard Brown pop up for an opening try, converted by Ezra Hinchliffe, and Heath led 7-0 after 7 minutes. Back came Salem and Heath had to defend with Jason Merrie, Peter Birkett and Alex McFadden putting in some solid tackles as Salem looked for an opening. Paddy Kerr was replaced by James Watson on the 20 minute mark and it looked as if Heath had stemmed the storm as after an attack they were awarded a penalty which was missed by Hinchliffe. From the re-start Salem broke clear and went over for an equalising converted try and were back in the game 7-7 after 24 minutes. Heath responded quickly and from a scum Peter Birkett fed Jack Crabtree who flicked a pass to the on-rushing Jordan Bradbrook and Heath restored their lead 14 -7 after 28 minutes. Back came Salem looking for a score but Merrie and McFadden were putting in the tackles and when Hinchliffes boot found touch to relieve the pressure it was Heath who pounced when the home side dropped the ball. Callum Harriett-Brown, with a kick and chase managed to win the race for the ball for Heaths third try of the game and a lead of 19-7 with 30 minutes on the clock. To Salems credit they continued to battle and reduced the arrears to 19-14 on 34 minutes with a converted try under the posts. Shortly after the re-start Fergus Marsden left the field and was replaced by Martyn Barnes and he was quickly into the game with a couple of strong runs as Heath began to take the upper hand. Bradbrook was unlucky with a dropped pass as the try line beckoned and half time came.
Heath were now playing with a strong wind in their favour as playing conditions began to deteriorate and began to kick for position as the Salem defence struggled to hold out. A Heath move involving Ezra Hinchliffe, Sam Pollard and Peter Birkett saw Harriett-Brown score a super bonus point try in the corner and a lead of 26-14 after 50 minutes. This saw the introduction of Cameron Ramsden and Paddy Kerr who came on for Watson and Crabtree but the game was changing as Heath onslaught saw Salem struggling. Brown was held up over the try-line but it came as no surprise to see Birkett add a fifth try on 55 minutes, converted by Hinchlife to lead 33-14. A smart 60 metre run from Harriett-Brown saw him release Peter Birkett who looked like he was in for his second try but Salem managed to get him into touch. From the resulting line out Salem struggled and next a scrum onslaught meant the referee had no option but to award Heath a penalty try and a lead of 40-14 after 62 minutes. Olly Cook and Jordan Bradbrook were replaced by Watson and Barnes as the visitors kept up the attacking options and as the driving rain worsened Richard Brown added to Salems misery with another try on 65 minutes, converted by Hinchliffe and it was game over 47-14. Once again to Salems credit they kept going until the final whistle but they had no answer to a superb all round performance from Heath and were glad to hear the referee blow to end the game.
The bonus point win now moves Heath up to third place on points difference from Old Brodleians and now sets up an intriguing match next Saturday when they clash at North Dean. After that Heath travel to second placed Scarborough and fifth place Beverley for what is a very important three games for the club.