Lessons to be learnt.
Heath U16s hosted Wharfedale, the second time both sides have faced each other this season. Heath lost the first game, something they were keen to redress.
Initially, it appeared they might be in with a fighting chance. Heath’s forwards drove the ball in well and, with Callum Harriott-Brown taking the first try of the match, converted by Dom Ellam, things looked to be on track. The false sense of security didn’t last long.
Facing a physically larger opposition highlighted Heath’s weak spot – defence. Having only a hand-full of their players caring to tackle below the waist proved to be Wharfedale’s making as they proceeded to run in four tries, three of which they converted, as they constantly found the holes in Heath’s defence. One of the few effective tacklers on his side, Heath’s man of the match Jake Holmes also created the majority of his side’s opportunities, one of which earned him a well earned try.
With one of their key tacklers, Arron Kelly, already missing, further problems confronted the home side as first Max Netherwood then Anthony Sykes were sidelined through injury, the later suffering a broken leg. Substituted onto the pitch late into the second half, Jack Fox put in some sterling work both in defence and attack. One of the few Heath players able to match his opponents stature, he scored several big hits. However, undeterred, Wharfedale kept racking up the points taking the half-time score to 12-38.
Dom Ellam took the first points of the second half with a drop-kick as Heath’s fortunes took a brief turn for the better with Holmes crossing again and Ellam converting closing the points tally to 27 -38.
However, a spurt of Wharfedale tries followed before Jack Fox crossed courtesy of some quick turn of play from Holmes and Harriott-Brown. Despite problems in defence, Heath didn’t drop their heads and they continued to probe Wharfedale’s line. Harriott-Brown’s last try had to be the most heart-stopping of the match. Clearing the ball from just shy of the half-way line, he chased it past Wharfedale’s defence, kicked it once more before picking it to touch down under the posts making Ellam’s conversion all the easier.
The two sides face each other again in a fortnight for the next round of The Plate Cup. Hopefully, lessons can be learnt beforehand.