Match Report: Saturday 7 April 2018

Reported by Thomas Stanley Walton
FINAL SCORE: Heath RUFC 26 vs Wheatley Hills RUFC 19


In the Yorkshire 1 game of monopoly, as five teams chase the two promotion spots, Heath used their “Get out of Jail” card to secure five points with a try in the last few minutes to snatch a vital win. However, the other teams pushing for the top two places also had five pointers so league positions remain the same as we enter the final stages of fixtures. Heath had Richard and Lee Brown absent through holiday commitments and full back Eddie Cartwright was also missing with an injury so in came Chris Piper and Martyn Barnes into the pack with Sam Pollard making a welcome appearance after a lengthy injury at full back. On the bench Callum Harriett-Brown, Paddy Kerr and Jack Blackhall.

Wheatley Hills came to North Dean languishing at the foot of the table, where they had been for most of the season, and in the opening minutes were swept aside by a prolific Heath side as they ran rampant and, in the first quarter of the game, the home team led 18-0. Ezra Hinchliffe put the first points on the board with a penalty conversion in the first minute and after five minutes Jack Crabtree and Hinchliffe linked well to send in veteran wing Si Brown to go over for an unconverted try in the corner, 8-0. Heath were dominant at this stage and when Crabtree put in a clever kick to find touch 10 metres from the visitors try-line Matt Beasty won ball and from the rolling maul Chris Piper popped up for a try, again unconverted, to extend the lead to 13-0 with only seven minutes played. Wheatley Hills could not come to terms with Heaths onslaught and when Jordan Bradbrook picked up the ball on thirteen minutes and kicked through to chase he outpaced the visitors defence to score Heaths third unconverted try and a lead of 18-0. Heath were unplayable at this point in the game and they looked as if they would cruise home but to the team from South Yorkshire full credit must go out to them as they slowly ground their way back into the game. The visitors pack were in control but the dogged determination of the Heath defence held them at bay until the twenty-fifth minute when Hills wing Ryan Richardson went over in the corner for an unconverted try 18-5. From the re-start Heath went back on the attack but an injury to the influential centre Jordan Bradbrook saw Callum Harriett-Brown replace him on the wing with Cameron Ramsden moving to centre. Shortly after Jason Merrie and Harriett-Brown linked up to allow the winger to stride forwards but Hills cover defence prevented a score. The visitors were looking to add to their tally and with Heath struggling to keep them at bay it came as no surprise to see their forwards go in for a converted try, 18-12, and they were back in the game. Paddy Kerr replaced Chris Piper but he could not prevent Hills from adding to their score as it was not quite working for Heath and they went into the lead with another converted try on the stroke of half time, 19-18.

In the melee before the end of the first half Matt Beasty received a nasty cut to his head and had to leave the field so on came Jack Blackhall for his debut at the start of the second half. Heath needed to get back into the  game and had the perfect start as from the kick off the ball went deep into the corner and Hills had to put it into touch. Heath won ball and went in search of a score but Hills had re-grouped and held out. A penalty miss on forty five minutes from Hinchliffe, which would have seen the home side go ahead, seemed to inspire both sides as they began a mid-field slog with both teams not giving anything away. Piper replaced Olly Cook as players began to suffer minor injuries and as the game entered the last quarter it was the home side who was beginning to get back on top. Pressure from Heaths forwards saw Hills give away a penalty and Hinchliffe slotted the ball over, 21-19, and Heath continued to try and batter the visitors defence into submission. With ten minutes remaining, Cook returned to the fray but Hills had re-grouped and went in search of a score. It was Heaths turn to feel the force as the visitors seemed certain to score but took the wrong option to get points on the board after being awarded a penalty, opting for a scrum instead of an attempt at the posts. Heath stood firm, winning the ball and Jack Crabtree put in a superb clearance kick to relieve the pressure. The clock was ticking down as Heath went back in search of a bonus point try and in frustration Hills were reduced to fourteen players after a sin binning which helped Heaths cause. A couple of line outs were won by Ian Downsborough and when Jason Merrie got hold of the ball he dodged under the tackles to score that elusive try. Once again Hinchliffes attempt was missed, although the ball was adjudged to have gone between the posts by the linesmen but the referee ruled differently. As Peter Birkett received the ball from the re-start he took great delight to kick it into touch and Heath had snatched a five point bonus win which keeps them in third spot one point behind second place Scarborough with a game in hand.

As the plot thickens we are now down to the wire. With a game away next week to long time leaders York and then two home games to Middlesbrough and again York it is down to Heath to put in the hard graft if they  are to achieve their aim.

Tries 4 Drop Goals 0
Penalty Tries 0 Penalty Goals 2
Conversions 0 Attendance 150
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