Heath defeat the Conditions and the Rishes.
There was much to play for in this local derby, staged on a pitch in surprisingly good condition after the recent downpours. The afternoon started fine and sunny but the wind from the east ensured a bitterly cold afternoon for players and spectators. Heath started 5th in the table and ORs 8th but with almost 200 points difference in Heath’s favor they were fancied to avenge their defeat at home in September last.
Both teams were ‘as per programme’ with Heath preferring Ezra Hinchliffe to start at fly half with Jack Crabtree held as a ‘finisher’ on the bench alongside evergreen Mark Puttick and Dave Skinner.
Heath kicked off with the wind at their backs but within 3 minutes had conceded a penalty 30 metres out which ORs scrum-half Eddie Cockroft pushed wide. For the first 10 minutes OR had most possession, with their powerful front row of Whitfield, Stone and Crickmay conspicuous along with fly half Kelly and centre Waud. However, they gifted a pass to Heath’s Olly Cook for Jordan Bradbrook to find touch on the OR 22 metres line. OR continued to dominate possession but Heath’s tackling was sound and their fullback Eddie Cartwright repeatedly pushed his side deep into the home team’s 22.
On 18 mins, OR were penalized for handing out of a scrum but Hinchliffe’s attempt at goal from 40 metres went wide. A high up-and-under put Heath on the home 22, then a penalty kick into the corner set up a lineout which their captain Ian Downsborough won. The pack drove and Cook scored a try which Hinchliffe converted: 0 – 7 to the visitors on 22 mins. ORs came back strongly on the offensive, using their heavy-weights in the pack and in the backs. Heath conceded a penalty which Cockroft missed but shortly afterwards he caught Heath napping and slipped through to commence a battering of the Heath line from one side of the field to the other. Outstanding defence by the whole team, led by Richard Brown (No.8) eventually enabled Cartwright to clear the danger.
On the half hour, OR wing Anthony Shoesmith had to leave the field injured and was replaced by Joe Billing. From a penalty, Heath kicked into the corner and a well-executed miss-move in the centre of the field got the ball to Callum Harriott-Brown but the flying winger was well marked. The move yielded nothing except a missed attempt at goal by Heath after play was taken back for an earlier infringement by ORs. Then the wind dropped! Soon after, Skinner came on to replace Cook temporarily, for Heath.
At half time, ORs could reflect on failure to capitalize on a very strong forward platform while Heath’s tackling had coped with the onslaught very well and their clearances generally had been very long.
With sun now at Heath’s backs and in ORs eyes, the visitors were found offside after defending against a sustained attack. Surprisingly, OR chose to run the ball 8 metres from the posts but a knock-on was Heath’s salvation. Pressure was relieved when fullback Cartwright put up a high ball to his opposite number, Harry Whitfield, who knocked on.
After 50 minutes, Heath brought Crabtree on as fly half and rearranged the threequarters with Si Brown going on the bench. Soon after, Rich Brown broke from the back of the scrum on the home team’s 22m line. Heath now enjoyed a good spell of possession, moving the ball fluently, well within the ORs half of the field for the best part of 10 mins and it seemed a score must come! Backs and forwards were all involved and after a Bradbrook break scrum-half Peter Birkett side-stepped through, passed to Downsborough, then via Matt Beasty and Crabtree it went back to Birkett. He got the ball to supporting wingman Harriott-Brown who scythed through to score near the posts. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful. Within a minute, Beasty was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on and Cockroft put ORs on the scoreboard: 3–12 with about 15 mins to go.
The restart was sent deep but it was returned with a long kick and ORs were on the charge. Heath were under pressure and a beautifully timed, delayed pass to Billing who came through off his wing, produced a try under the posts which Cockroft gleefully converted: 10-12.
Then, out of nowhere …... came the blizzard! A succession (flurry) of scrums followed. As time ran out, Heath scored what has become one of their ‘hallmark’ tries. From about 30 metres, the forwards gathered and drove towards the ORs line. As the movement progressed, more players joined in until momentum became unstoppable and a try was accredited, fittingly on St Patrick’s Day, to Heath’s Irish prop forward, Chris Moore. Hinchliffe converted to close the game at 10-19 to Heath.
After this hard-fought game, full of endeavour from both sides and in difficult conditions, Heath moved up one place to 4th in Yorkshire One and Old Rishworthians remained at 8th.