A good game to end on.
Heath 3rd xv entertained their Keighley counterparts in their final home game of the season on a lovely, Spring afternoon. Keighley were fielding a young side and it was important that the experienced Heath pack got on top straightaway and dictated matters.
However, it was starting to look ominous with Keighley being quicker to the breakdown and dictating play. Therefore, it was no surprise when they opened the scoring after 13 minutes when a try was scored near the corner which was well converted. 0 7.
The Heath backs were being given limited ball by the pack as Keighley continued to press. After 24 minutes, the away side increased their lead with a well-taken try. From a scrum in the home 22, the outside half found the blind side winger running a good line on the inside. He made ground before being tackled. The ball was quickly recycled and the ball was transferred quickly along the line for a further try which, again, was well converted. 0 14.
This seemed to spur on the home side who then became much more of a threat. The backs were provided with more ball and centres, Carl GALVIN and Rob THACKRAY were starting to make inroads into the Keighley defence. Also, impressive left winger, John ALLINSON made a number of strong runs towards the end of the half with scrum half, John LYONS, also linking the forwards and backs well.
The home side were rewarded for their efforts with a try just before the break. They were awarded a penalty some 10 metres from the Keighley line and captain and outside half, Dan INGHAM, took a quick tap and forced his way across the line for a try which he then just failed to convert. 5 14.
At half time, full back, Gareth OWEN was replaced by Simon LOCKWOOD and right winger, Martyn BARNES made way for Travis DENWOOD. Heath started the second half well and reduced the deficit when Dan INGHAM converted a penalty some 25 metres out directly in line with the posts. 8 14.
Prop, John INGHAM, was replaced by Mick HANKS and second row, Paddy KERR, had to leave the field with an injury being replaced by Stuart LAWLOR. The game was now finely poised and the home sides confidence was growing. However, things took a turn for the worse for the Heath boys when one of their attacks broke down in the Keighley 22 and the ball was kicked deep downfield by the outside half into open space. The Keighley winger chased after the ball and picked it up some 30 metres out from the home line and covering left winger, John ALLINSON showed superb commitment and determination to get across and tackle the other winger. Unfortunately, he just managed to ground the ball over the line in the corner. The conversion was missed. 8 19.
The Heath boys continued to show good spirit and were rewarded for their efforts after 62 minutes when, from a Keighley attack just inside their own half, the centre through a wayward pass which was picked up by Rob THACKRAY for a try which was unconverted. 13 19 and all to play for.
Gareth CRAWSHAW then replaced Barry SYKES in the back row and Gareth OWEN replaced hooker, Dave ALLEN. The game was evenly balanced but it was Keighley who scored the decisive try after 73 minutes. After a period of pressure, the ball was passed down the back line and the centre cut back inside to score an unconverted try. 13 24.
Paddy KERR returned to the field to replace Emlyn JAMES, who had taken a knock, for the last few minutes. No further points were scored and the referee brought the game to a conclusion. Final score: Heath 13 v 24 Keighley.
This was an entertaining game played by two committed teams in an excellent spirit. Referee Richard LEACH was taking charge of his first game as an official and he refereed the game with empathy and commonsense, which was appreciated by both players and supporters alike.