Match Report: Saturday 20 April 2013

Reported by Morgar.
FINAL SCORE: Heath RUFC 25 vs Wath on Dearne 29

Excellent first half but game slips away in second.

The final match of the season for Heath’s 1st XV took place in superb conditions at North Dean. Heath would have preferred to have selected from a bigger pool of players but, with their high-flying colts fully committed to cup rugby this weekend, Kevin Plant’s options were limited. His choice of evergreen Mick Gleeson for the pivotal fly-half berth, versatile Ian Downsborough to patrol the centre and Jim McReady (as a late replacement for prop James Watson) proved crucial. With Heath’s forwards able to hold their own, 5th – placed Wath were not able to call all the shots.

Wath kicked off and ominously, 4 minutes into the game, their centre Steve Mason beat three separate defenders as he sped down the touchline to score an unconverted try in the corner: 0 -5. Next, following a Heath scrum, the ball went loose in the tackle and Wath’s backs set off running but when Walsh got his hands on the ball for Heath he put in a long touch-finder to take play to the Wath 22m line. Gleeson made a half-break and Heath were awarded a penalty which he converted to make the score 3 – 5 on 10 minutes.

Josh Lister, not having played in the first team for several months, fielded a difficult ball on his own 22 and it was Heath’s scrum. Wath won this, but then knocked on. When they next had the ball they were penalised for not releasing it in the tackle and Gleeson found a relieving touch well inside the Wath 22. The ball was spun out to Si Brown and he split the defence before deftly passing the ball inside to the supporting Cameron Ramsden who finished off with a try in the corner. Gleeson converted for Heath to take the lead: 10 – 5 after 20 minutes.

On 25 mins, Heath were unlucky not to record a try when Downsborough followed up and dived on a ball over the try-line. Play was taken back for a penalty, Wath’s Small being yellow-carded for a tripping offence. It was all Heath at this stage as they pressed for another try, with the forwards Cook, Richardson, Puttick and Moore powering on. From a quick tap penalty, Puttick made 20 metres before passing to Walsh who scored an unconverted try wide out giving Heath a 15 – 5 lead on 28 mins.

Wath were clearly unsettled and their restart went straight into touch. Heath won their scrum and the backs ran well with Si Brown executing the perfect reverse pass for Olly Cook to run on to at speed. A confident 50m touch-finder from Walsh put Heath 5m from the Wath line. The visitors defended with a series of forward drives but when they lost the ball Si Brown was held up over the try-line after supporting a strong run from fellow-centre Downsborough. Heath’s back row of Hunter (No.8), Wilby and Pidgeon were working well as a unit and with the scrimmaging of the front five, gave Wath a torrid time defending their line. Walsh was held up and scrums followed, with Downsborough eventually driving over near the posts for Gleeson to convert: 22 – 5 after 37 minutes.

Heath then had to defend with Wath choosing to run two penalties. Si Brown made the relieving kick and it was Heath’s turn to attack again. Wath’s Joe Bartlett (former Halifax scrum half) was lucky only to receive a warning after blatantly stamping on a Heath player as the first half drew to a close. Heath fully deserved to turn round in front, with a weakened side delivering their best efforts.

Wath started the second half spreading forwards across the field and running with the backs hard at the Heath defence and within 7 mins scored a converted try under the posts: 22 - 12. It took 10 minutes for Heath to get into the Wath half but then Bartlett made a break down centre field before transferring the ball with a slick reverse pass for one of his forwards to run on to. With play driven close to Heath’s line, Bartlett picked up and jinked in, under the posts for a try which Quinn converted to reduce the deficit to 22 – 19 on 55 mins. Wath made changes and Kris Garland came on as hooker for Heath, allowing McReady to go off and Puttick to move out to prop.

Heath got into the Wath half and Gleeson extended their lead, with a penalty, to 25 – 19. The respite was short-lived, with Wath quickly back into stride and threatening the Heath line. Gleeson briefly relieved the pressure with a 40m touch-finder but Wath were soon back and one of their bulky forwards scored a converted try to put them one point ahead of Heath at 25 – 26 with 13 minutes left.

Wath were now showing great determination but their dissent led to a penalty and being marched back to within Gleeson’s kicking range. Unfortunately, the attempt was wide. Wath came back with more running and handling and when Heath went offside, Quinn took the 3 points for the visitors to lead 25 – 29 on 72 mins.

Cameron Ramsden made a try-saving tackle. When Heath were found off-side, Quinn’s conversion attempt missed. Wath had the bulk of possession but Heath stuck to their tackling, with Andy White making a cameo appearance, replacing Ramsden five minutes from the end. Bartlett made a 30m run, dummying his way through to the Heath 22m but the line was cleared. Gleeson found touch on the Wath 22m as the game, and the season, petered out.

Before the start, a losing bonus point would probably have been as much as Heath could hope for, but after turning round at half time with a 22 – 5 lead, they could only feel disappointed they had not managed to hold on for a win.

Tries 3 Drop Goals 0
Penalty Tries 0 Penalty Goals 2
Conversions 2 Attendance 100
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