HEATH PACK DOMINANT TO SECURE THE WIN
15 Eddie Cartwright 14 Elliott Spiers 13 Joe Morrison 12 Tom Owen 11 Jack Bruce 10 Dan Cole 9 Dom Walsh 1 Paul Turner 2 Alex McFadden 3 Chris Moore 4 Matt Beasty 5 Fergus Marsden 6 Will McLaughlin 7 Jonny Cole 8 Ben Stringer 16 Matt Hallett 17 Saif Boussadda 18 Olly Cook
Heath travelled north to take on Durham City, in a first ever meeting between the two clubs, looking to build on a solid start to life in North 1 East. Coach Harry had to make changes to the side as Callum Harriott-Brown failed a late fitness test on a hamstring injury, so, making his first team debut was Jack Bruce. The pack saw Gavin Rhodes missing, due to work commitments, and welcomed back Ben Stringer at 8, with Fergus Marsden moving to his usual role in the second row. On the bench it was a welcome return to Saif Boussadda who sat alongside Matt Hallett and Olly Cook.
Durham, who were looking for their first win of the season, kicked off playing towards the clubhouse and were handed the perfect start as Heath were caught offside and an early penalty saw the home club lead 3-0 with 2 minutes on the clock. Heath had not settled and struggled with line-out ball and dropped ball so it came as no surprise to see the home side waltz in for a converted try and a well deserved score of 10-0 with 10 minutes played.
It needed a big effort from the visitors to work their way back into the game and the first real inroad into the home sides half saw Fergus Marsden win line-out ball and the Heath pack drove forwards. Dom Walsh then released Dan Cole whose swift pass to the supporting Eddie Cartwright saw the full back drive for the line. His slick pass to Jack Bruce and on to Elliott Spiers looked like a certain try but Durham's cover defence saved the day. The Home side was struggling to stem the Heath onslaught and gave away a penalty in front of their posts. Heath's scrum was dominant and it looked as if Ben Stringer was going to open their account, but he was adjudged to have knocked on and the try was disallowed.
Olly Cook replaced Paul Turner, at prop, after 20 minutes and he had an immediate impact. The visitors were now managing to keep possession and became encamped in the home side's half. Cook, Will McLaughlin and Stringer made solid yardage as the Durham defence began to crumble and it was only a matter of time before a Heath score. From yet another scrum in front of the posts, Ben Stringer controlled the ball and this time scored the try, converted by Dan Cole. Heath were back in the game 10-7 as the half time whistle sounded.
The break was welcomed more by Durham as the second half was a mirror image of the first when the home side scored a converted try with only two minutes on the clock. Heath were guilty of not switching back on after the break and a score of 17-7 meant an uphill battle for the visitors. On came Saif Boussadda and Matt Hallett, replacing Fergus Marsden and Jack Bruce, as coach Harry looked to instil some urgency and the next ten minutes saw Heath begin to take control. Durham's defence was struggling and they were giving away numerous penalties, to try to stem the tidal onslaught.
Following yet another penalty, for a high tackle, Heath had the breakthrough as Elliott Spiers jinked his way over the line for a try, converted by Dan Cole, and a score of 17-14 with a quarter of the game left to play. Heath's scrum was massively dominant and in full control, so it was only a matter of time before there was another score. Matt Hallett was floored by another dangerous tackle from the home side and when Dan Cole found touch, 5 metres out from the Durham try line it looked like a chance for Heath. Boussadda secured the catch and Heath drove for the line but Durham held firm. It was all Heath and from yet another penalty the visitors capitalised with a quick tap and the ball eventually found Spiers who scored his second try, in the corner. A difficult conversion was just short but Heath had managed to take the lead 19-17 with 10 minutes left to play.
Heath now went in search of the bonus point try but Durham were also looking to restore the lead. However, time was on Heaths side and as the clock wound down they were quite happy to kick the ball into touch to secure a third win.
This was a real battle for Heath who came up against a home side who were desperate for their first win of the season. However, Heath had other ideas and just about deserved the points, which puts them in fifth spot in the league and now their attention is focused on next week's home encounter against bottom club Consett.