Worrying start & injuries overcome. Good 5 pointer in end!
A visit to South Yorkshire to take on Wheatley Hills was the venue for Heath as they looked for a win against a team they last played in 2010 when the Doncaster side were promoted to North 1 East as champions of Yorkshire 1. Having spent the next seven season in this league they were relegated at the end of last season season when they failed to win a game and have only won once this season on the opening day victory against North Ribblesdale. Coach Dave Harrison made several changes to the team that beat North Ribblesdale last week with Cameron Ramsden and Dave Skinner coming in for the injured Jason Bradbrook and Richard Brown and Si Brown started on the wing as Eddie Cartwright moved to full back to cover the unavailable Sam Pollard. Heath also had to make several changes to the selected side on the morning of the game when Olly Cook pulled out suffering with flu like symptoms and Martyn Barnes was unavailable so evergreen Paddy Kerr started at loose head prop whilst on the bench Mark Puttick and Tobias Hinchliffe were drafted in.
This disruption seemed to have an effect as Heath were slow to start the game and were punished when Wheatley Hills opted for a scrum 10 metres out following the award of a penalty and they went over in the corner for a converted try to lead 7-0 after three minutes. Heath were struggling to contain a strong Wheatley pack and the game wasn’t helped with similar colours being worn and Boussaada was one of many guilty of passing straight in the Hills players as the game progressed. Heath gradually got into the game and Chris Moore, Alex McFadden and Jason Merrie all looked to have touched down only for the referee to bring play back each time for infringements. The home side were struggling to contain Heath and a penalty from Ezra Hinchliffe reduced the arrears on thirteen minutes, 7-3. Captain Ian Downsborough and Chris Moore both went close to scoring and another penalty from Hinchliffe on eighteen minutes saw a score of 7-6 and Hills were clinging on. Paddy Kerr and Matt Beasty were replaced by Chris Piper and, Mark Puttick as play settled down to a battle in the middle of the field. Wheatley added a penalty on twenty-four minutes for an 10-6 scoreline but from the re-start Callum Harriett-Brown chased hard and charged down the clearance from Hills and from the 22 restart Heath were on the attack. A clever kick from Jack Crabtree saw Si Brown go close before Crabtree, Hinchliffe and Cameron Ramsden linked superbly to send over Harriett-Brown into the corner for an unconverted try and Heath led 11-10 after thirty minutes. Heath were now in full swing with Eddie Cartwright and Dave Skinner making significant in-roads into the Hills defence and it came as no surprise when Hinchliffe and Cartwright linked to send in Harriett-Brown for his second try. The conversion hit the post but a lead of 16-10 was just reward for the way Heath had reacted to a poor start. Heath were now in control and with the final play of the half Peter Birkett, who was having an outstanding game, passed the ball to Jack Crabtree and his clever pass to Cameron Ramsden enabled the centre to go over for a converted try and a score of 23-10 as half time arrived.
Wheatley Hills began the second half once again on the attack and were rewarded with a penalty conversion after five minutes to reduce the arrears to 13-20. Matt Beast returned to action as he replaced Mark Puttick, who had put in an excellent stint, as Heath were battling to defend another score from the home side. With a scrum 15 metres out from their try-line Heath turned the game around with a flowing passing game from their back line to get within 15 metres of the Wheatley line and the home side had no option but to give away a penalty and Ezra Hinchliffe obliged and a score of 26-13 with twenty minutes remaining. Heath went looking for a bonus point fourth try and once again their backs ran riot as Si Brown rounded off a superb move to score in the corner and with Hinchliffe adding the extras Heath were in control, 33-13. Wheatley were struggling at this point but continued to show fight and went close on a couple of occasions but once again with Heath defending the visitors turned defence into attack as Crabtree, Hinchliffe and Ramsden tore through the home side to release Jason Merrie who romped over the try-line for a final score of 38-13 with five minutes remaining. Hills to their credit continued to look to add to their score and with Ramsden, and then Merrie, sent to the sin-bin for persistently infringing the home side went over for a converted try and a score of 20-38 added some respectability to the score line.
This was a workmanlike performance from Heath over a side who seemed better than their place in the relegation spots and who never stopped working. Heath now move up to second place in the league and with the visit of top team York, who are undefeated this season, next week to North Dean we are in for a cracker of a game. Miss it if you dare!!!!