Shaky post-Christmas Start.
1. Kerr 6. Wilby 11 Bruce
2. Puttick 7. Ali 12 Hinsley
3. Morley 8. Milner 13 Ramsden
4. Dance 9. Cole 14 Hinchcliffe
5. James 10 Reynolds 15 Cockroft
Subs: Whitworth, Dawes, Wilkinson, Nicholson, Owen
After the elongated break due to Xmas and postponements, Heath 2nds welcomed Ilkley to the West Vale ground, and agreed that the fixture would count as the home and away fixture, so double points were on offer.
Heath were able to field a large squad with a full bench, that in the end proved invaluable due to some fitness issues.
Ilkley kicked off and Heath were immediately on the attack through a Reynolds kick, and early scrum taken against the head, showed the forward dominance that was a feature of Heaths play in 2017. Cole punted forward, Wilby collected and released to the overlapping Milner, he in turn released James who powered over for the opening score, the difficult conversion was missed 5-0.
Again, Reynolds found space from the restart, but we were penalised for off feet, and Ilkely cleared. Heath next lost captain Hinchcliffe to a nasty rib injury and Wilkinson took to the field. Heath's scrum weapon was then negated when Ilkely lost their Hooker and uncontested scrums were ordered. Cole put pressure on the Ilkely backs but were let off when Heaths backs failed to release in the tackle. A raft of early changes were then made in the forwards who were already tiring and to take advantage of the uncontested scrum position
Dawes replaced James
Owen replaced Kerr
Nicholson replaced Morley
Heath's forwards then made a great driving move and released the backs for great passage of interplay resulting in Ramsden crossing for another score near the posts which was converted by Cole 12-0
Ilkley to their credit continued to look dangerous with the ball in hand and excellent kicks into the Heath half had to be repelled.
Ali was then replaced by Kerr
When Cole executed a neat grubber kick through the line the backs were quickly on scene and won a penalty, which was kicked to the 5m line for a great lineout chance. The ball was knocked on by Heath and the chance gone. Heath next managed to steal at the lineout and a Puttick drive made space for Reynolds to dive over setting up another easy conversion chance 19-0
Shortly after half time was called
Half Time 19-0
Whitworth replaced Milner and heath kicked off, forcing an early scrum Ilkley proved they were still dangerous and were putting pressure on the Heath line, which needed several great tackles to suppress. Heath weathered the storm and the next opportunity fell from an Ilkely mistake deep in defence. With the backs pressing they dropped the ball and the alert Hinsley grabbed his chance spinning out of the tackle to score and another conversion was taken 26-0. Heath were now hopeful of taking the full 10 points and perhaps took that as a sign to switch off.
Ilkley really piled on the pressure and looked to have fresh impetus where heath were tiring fast. Forward changes were made again but it could not prevent Ilkley scoring their opening points and converting 26-7. Soon after they were over again with tackling at a premium, luckily the conversion was just wide of the posts 26-12. Our opponents really had their heads up now and it looked to the watching supporters as if Heath could lose. After another round of subs, Wilby saw yellow for a deliberate offence in the eyes of the official and with a man advantage Ilkely upped their effort again Countless penalties were conceded and Heath were lucky not to lose further players, but they held on through to the close
This was a useful run out if only to show that much work was needed in fitness and in the training sessions. Cole affirmed that he would only be looking to name an 18-man squad going forward and commitment and training ethics would be a key pointer