Thanks to the few that actually travelled!
Heath 3rd XV travelled to Wharfedale in the belief that they would be playing against the Wharfedale 4th XV. However, on arrival, it transpired that the team was, in fact, playing a mixture of 3rd and 4th team players. Heath had travelled with 13 players and, fortunately, Wharfedale supplied Heath with 3 players, leaving Mick HANKS to start on the bench.
The hosts got the game underway in fine, sunny, conditions and Heath settled into the game well. The pack was scrummaging well and the line out was functioning reasonably. However, the younger, fitter home side took the lead on 8 minutes when they won the ball from an attacking 5 metres scrum. The ball was run along the line. Back rower, James LORD, put in a big hit to temporarily halt the progress but the ball was driven on by the Wharfedale pack and a try was scored some 15 metres in from the touchline. The conversion was successful. 0-7.
Again, the Heath lads were sticking to their task well and frustrating their opponents. Wharfedale extended their lead after 20 minutes when the full back put a long kick in over the Heath defence. He then showed good speed to hack the ball towards the Heath line. There, a Heath defender attempted to dive and secure the ball but, due to the pressure from the full back, he was only able to nudge it over the line and Wharfedale scored an unconverted try. This was cruel on the defender, who had chased back some 50 metres in an attempt to clear the danger. 0-12.
Within 2 minutes, the lead was further extended when the full back came into the line at speed and ran an excellent line to score under the posts. He converted the try himself. 0-19.
It was apparent now that the Heath back line were well and truly up against it and this signalled the start of incessant pressure on the Heath side as Wharfedale utilised their backs whenever possible. That said, the pack were having good moments in the first half being able to put in a number of good driving mauls with Paddy KERR and debutant second rower, Gary MOORE, leading the way.
Wharfedale scored a further converted try after 27 minutes when the ball was quickly passed down the line and the full back scored under the posts. 0-26.
After 28 minutes, scrum half, Gareth OWEN, had to leave the field with a foot injury. John LYONS went to scrum half from full back; Ryan HUNTER went to full back from 2nd row and Mick HANKS went into the 2nd row.
After 31 minutes, the left-winger made a good break but an excellent cover tackle by James LORD with the assistance of Ryan HUNTER prevented the winger scoring. However, the ball was laid back immediately and a supporting home player then picked up and scored a converted try to the side of the posts. 0-33. Half time whistle then blown.
Heath got the second half underway and immediately conceded a further converted try when the scrum half took possession on the home 10 metres line and showed good speed and strength to score under the posts. 0-40.
Two further converted tries followed to make the score 0-54. However, the Heath pack continued to show their mettle with an excellent 20 metres driving maul down the touchline.
After 15 minutes, the number 8 made a good break and offloaded to the supporting centre, who scored near the posts. The conversion was surprisingly missed. 0-59.
After 18 minutes, the Heath boys got on the score sheet. The ball went loose on the home 10 metres line and the guest Wharfedale centre picked up and scored a try under the posts, which was converted by skipper, Dan INGHAM. 7-59.
After 21 minutes, Heath were penalised on the halfway line. Wharfedale took a quick tap and the ball was run wide along the back line and a converted try then was scored near the posts. The referee then blew his whistle for ‘No side’. Final score 7-66.
The 13 Heath boys gave 100% effort and showed superb commitment for the whole of the game. However, there was never anyway that they were going to be able to compete against a fit, young, well coached Wharfedale side containing a number of players who would normally play at a far higher level than Heath 3rd xv.
A quick word about the referee who officiated in a very sympathetic manner throughout. He showed common sense during the game and his efforts were well and truly appreciated by the Heath players.
The 13 lads performed with great pride and were a credit to their rugby club. On Tuesday evening, there were 27 names of available players selected to play in this game. Yet, for one reason and another, over half of the players cried off/failed to show up!!! Unfortunately, this would appear to be a sign of the times these days. Gone are the days when every Saturday between September and April was dedicated to rugby. There are obviously genuine reasons for people not being able to play but I am sure also that there are also times when the commitment just is not there. This does not bode well for the club in general. Players have to stand up and be counted. Let’s hope that the situation faced this Saturday is not repeated for the interests of the club in general but also for the poor 13 lads who were on a hiding to nothing.