Poor performance lets a win get away.
Heath Firsts. There was a welcome return to Gareth Richardson and Eddie Blackmore plus a first start for Rob Thackray on the wing as Heath faced York, who were in the lower reaches of Yorkshire 1
Despite a strong wind blowing down the pitch, the York ground looked perfect for the game and Heath kicked off with the wind to their backs. The visitors began well and following good work from Alistair Gordon and Ryan Piper at the scrum, fullback Simon Brown was released and only a desperate tap-tackle prevented an early score.
In the next phase of play, standoff Hetherington linked with Thackray to go near in the corner and York quickly gave away a penalty to prevent a try. Piper kicked for touch, Gordon won great line out ball and from the resulting drive Captain Andy Pearce powered over for the first try of the game. Piper took full advantage of the wind and curled the ball over for a 7 – 0 lead after eight minutes.
York kicked off and, following a clean take, Gordon passed to Hetherington who put in a tremendous kick to take play back to York’s twenty-two and Heath were on the attack again. Unfortunately, indiscipline from the West Vale men saw York mount a break out and once in Heath’s half more indiscipline brought the hosts three points from a penalty via standoff McClure. 3 – 7.
Clearly, the referee was quick to penalise infringements and Heath continued to give away too many penalties. On twenty minutes of play York pulled back three more points as McClure stepped forward again. Five more minutes then brought another three points which took the home team into the lead at 9 – 7.
Obviously, Heath had to buckle down and get points back onto the board as soon as possible. This they did, taking play back well into York’s twenty-two and, when the hosts failed to cleanly take ball from their own lineout, Gordon picked up and drove over for a well-taken, opportunistic score. The conversion was missed but Heath were back in the lead at 9 – 12, on the half hour.
On thirty-seven minutes, York had the opportunity to draw level from a penalty, when Heath were deemed to have been “holding on”, but the shot went wide. A poor dropout allowed the hosts to drive straight back and when the attack was adjudged to have been stopped illegally, centre Chris Merrick went to the bin for ten minutes.
There were no further scores up to half time and Heath had clearly shown themselves to have the bettering of their hosts, provided that indiscipline and wrong options didn’t get the better of them. That said, the West Vale men gave away another penalty within thirty seconds of the restart, from which York opted for a scrum and position. Two minutes on and the hosts were level at 12 a piece.
A good run from Piper saw Heath nearly redeem themselves with a score, but instead of an almost certain five points, an interception of the final pass saw York collect, break from their own line and winger James Geldart swat off the last ditch tackle of the covering Ashley Baxendale, to score out in the corner. The conversion took advantage of the wind and York went 19 – 12 in front.
A dislocated jaw for Piper saw a long delay in play, but after this, the talented scrumhalf remained on the pitch to see the game out. Heath regrouped and Merrick returned to the fray.
Strong runs from Gordon, Pearce and Merrick took play back to the York line and when the home side gave away a penalty, Piper stepped forward and took the three points on offer. 19 – 15 and the game still there for the taking but York bounced back and only a great cover defence from Brown stopped a score.
Next it was Heath’s turn to break out and a great kick from Merrick set up a chance for the West Vale men only ten metres from York’s line. Gordon took the ball from the line out and set it off down the backs to linking fullback Brown, who was finally stopped illegally, as York gave away three points rather than five. Piper kicked Heath on to 18 points.
Heath now looked to be commanding play and York started to make mistakes of their own. Fresh legs were called for and Eddie Blackmore replaced backrower Chris Haigh. However, he quickly caught the referee’s eye and York took three more points from a penalty, putting them 22 – 18 in front with only fifteen minutes to go.
Coming away with a win, despite an inconsistent and below par performance, still wasn’t out of the question and so Heath again buckled down to some hard graft. Oliver Wilby standing out in his commitment to the rest of the side as everyone worked for the winning score. However, finishing let the West Vale men down as their hosts ate up the phases of play. And so it was York who were mightily relieved when the final whistle blew and they took the two points for a home win.