FIVE BONUS POINTS SECURED AGAIN
Heath entertained lowly Bradford Salem looking to get back to winning ways, after the setback at Selby and in atrocious conditions put in a performance which secured maximum points in their quest for a top two position at the end of the season. Back from injury was the influentional Jason Merrie who started in his usual position as open side flanker and Alex McFadden at hooker. The backs also saw Jordan Bradbrook make a start with Cameron Ramsden moving to the wing as Si Brown took a spot on the bench. Chris Moore and Dave Skinner returned from work commitments last week and took a place on the bench.
A continuous downpour of rain throughout the morning made the North Dean pitch a quagmire as Heath kicked off and from this it became obvious to the hardy supporters that players would have difficulties with handling the ball. Early exchanges saw Ezra Hinchliffe put in a superb kick to find touch near the Salem try-line and with Matt Beasty winning line-out ball Jack Crabtree switched play to link up with Eddie Cartwright and his pass found Callum Harriett-Brown, with Jordan Bradbrook in support, but he was bundled into touch as Salem held firm. After five minutes of continuous pressure on the Salem defence they managed to get hold of the ball and ran in a try going the full length of the field to go into a shock 5-0 lead. This spurred the visitors and Heath were put under pressure with Alex McFadden and Ian Downsborough making some strong tackles to keep them at bay. Salem continued to attack but a super run from Harriott-Brown relieved the pressure and the home side were on the attack. From the resulting line-out the ball came cross-field and excellent inter-linking passes between Cameron Ramsden and Jordan Bradbrook enabled the centre to go in at the corner and the scores were level 5-5 after 20 minutes. From the re-start Chris Piper and Seiffe Boussaada had strong runs and then Ezra Hinchliffe and Cameron Ramsden combined well as Heath went in search of another score but the visitors held firm and on 28 minutes broke free and only a Harriett-Browns tackle saved a certain try in the corner. The conditions were getting worse as the half progressed and players were finding them tiring so Skinner and Moore entered the fray to replace Piper and Downsborough on 30 minutes. Heaths forwards were beginning to take control of the game with several telling drives and, from one, Richard Brown and Peter Birkett linked well to release Jack Crabtree but he was stopped illegally and from the penalty to touch Matt Beasty won line out ball and the drive was on with Alex McFadden scoring the touch down. Ezra Hinchliffe added the conversion for a score of 12-5 with half time approaching. However, from the re-start there was a score for Salem in the corner following inept tackling from Heath and the scores were level 12-12 at half time.
Both sets of players left the field at half time to get a wash down and Heath returned in a clean set of shirts and they were quickly on the attack as Jason Merrie tore through a static Salem defence to release Jordan Bradbrook who was stopped illegally and a penalty was awarded. Heath chose the scrum option and Salem had no answer as the Heath pack surged forwards and Richard Brown scored a touch-down, converted by Hinchliffe, for a lead of 19-12 after 44 minutes. The game developed into a mid-field battle over the next 15 minutes with the deadlock broken when Richard Brown scored his second try on 62 minutes, converted by Hinchliffe and the game was won at 26-12 as Salem looked down and out. Coach Harrison rang the changes as the game petered out but Heath had a sting in the tail when, from yet another controlled scrum, Jason Merrie rounded off a good display with a converted try and a score of 33-12 was just reward for the home side.
A workmanlike performance from Heath which maintain their top four placing in the league. Next week they have a free week end before they travel to Woodhead to take on Old Brodleians in an eagerly awaited local derby.
Ian Rushworth, from the Courier, was down to watch the game. Read his Report at https://www.halifaxcourier.co.uk/sport/more-sport/pack-power-wins-it-for-heath-1-8999764 and in Friday's Paper.