Match Report: Saturday 20 January 2018

Reported by Thomas Stanley Walton
FINAL SCORE: Heath RUFC 36 vs Keighley RUFC 13

POTENTIAL BANANA SKIN AVOIDED WITH SUPER HOME WIN

Heath went looking for maximum points that would keep the pressure on the top two teams in Yorkshire 1 and put in a clinical performance against a side who had won their last four games and were hopeful of another win as they move away from the relegation places. Heath had to draft in Michael Reynolds at scrum half following the late withdrawal of Peter Birkett who was still suffering from the effects of flu and also welcomed back influential Richard Brown to bolster the pack. Also missing were Jordan Bradbrook and Jason Merrie so Dave Skinner and Cameron Ramsden started with Sam Pollard returning to the bench alongside Martyn Barnes and Chris Piper.

Following a week of rain, sleet and snow the pitch was passed fit but was very heavy and would obviously cut up as the game progressed and have an effect on the players. Early exchanges were even but it was obvious from the start that Heaths pack would dominate the game and with Keighley down to fourteen players as one player received treatment Heath took control as Michael Reynolds passed to Ian Downsborough who took the ball one handed and drove towards the try- line before releasing the ball to Seiffe Boussaada who scored the opening try and a score of 5-0 with eight minutes on the clock. However, Keighleys response was immediate and they looked confident when in possession of the ball.  A clever cross-field kick was not dealt with by the Heath defence and the Keighley wing pounced to go over for an unconverted try to level the scores 5-5 with thirteen minutes played. The pitch was beginning to cut up as Keighley went further in front with a penalty to take the lead 8-5 but Heath responded and when Dave Skinner and Richard Brown drove forwards the visitors defence was happy to get the ball into touch but from the restart they were caught offside and Ezra Hinchliffe converted a penalty to draw the scores level 8-8 after twenty minutes. From the re-start Heath made a mistake and Keighley went looking for a score but the home defence stood firm and when Jack Crabtree kicked a long ball clear Hinchlife and Callum Harriett-Brown went chasing it. Keighley defence floundered as Ezra Hinchliffe put in a vital tackle and as the ball fell free Harriett-Brown scooped it up and went over for Heaths second try, converted by Hinchliffe and a score of 15-8 after twenty five minutes. Boussada received an injury from the re-start and Chris Piper entered the game. Heath were now a lot quicker to the ball and were taking control and superb drives from Brown, Downsborough and Piper set up chances for Heath and Jack Crabtree was on hand to go over for a converted try as Heath extended their lead to 22-8. Keighley managed to claw their way back but Heath were now in dominant mood and a super kick from Ezra Hinchliffe set up their next attack. From the line out Matt Beasty won the ball and with the Heath pack in full control they drove forwards 20 metres and Chris Moore popped up for the  bonus point try Heath deserved. The conversion from Hinchliffe saw half time arrive and Heath were in control 29-8.

Heath began the second half in control but could not break down a resilient Keighley defence until the sixtieth minute to eventually score a fifth try following a scrum drive and Richard Brown try, with the extras added by Ezra Hinchliffe, for a score of 36-8. Players were beginning to feel the effects of the pitch as conditions worsened and there was a constant rotation of players from both sides which did affect the continuity of the game. There was no way back for Keighley but they were rewarded with a try in the last minute for a final score of 36-13.

This was another clinical effort from Heath with several excellent performances from players. All contributed to the win but special mention should go to the workrate of Michael Reynolds who slotted into the game really well and received a super ovation from the Heath crowd when he was replaced by Sam Pollard in the last five minutes. The win saw Heath maintain third spot in the league behind leaders York who lost their first game of the season at home to Middlesbrough and second place Beverley convincing winners at home to Moortown.

HEATH RUFC MATCH STATISTICS
Tries 5 Drop Goals 0
Penalty Tries 0 Penalty Goals 1
Conversions 4 Attendance 125
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