Into the 'Ribbs
RUGBY UNION - YORKSHIRE ONE: HEATH 30 vs. NORTH RIBBLESDALE 8
Heath welcomed North Ribblesdale (‘Ribb) to North Dean in glorious conditions for what it was hoped would be a fast-flowing encounter. Craig Heppenstall withdrew following injury so Si Brown came in on the wing. Kris Garland replaced Ollie Collinge for tactical reasons and Matt Cook was on the bench.
This was a ‘must-win’ game for Heath but, within 4 min, ‘Ribb had taken the lead through a penalty: 0 – 3. The home team were endeavoring to find their feet with Hamish Pratt and Ian Downsborough prominent. Following an injury to Mark Puttick, ‘Ribb were penalized but Ezra Hinchliffe’s goal-kick went just wide on 6 mins.
The visitors were playing well, with Heath yet to settle - as their back line tried hard to gel whilst their players got used to different positions. On 14 mins there was great chance for Heath with a scrum 10 metres out. Dom Walsh tried to get things going and Darren Neilly went close but Heath lost the ball and ‘Ribb broke free. Only a superb cover tackle by fly-half Eddie Cartwright saved the day.
Heath charged back and Downsborough released Pratt as they looked for an opening. Pressure continued with Will Sellers and Garland going close on 23 mins, but the ‘Ribb defence held. Cameron Ramsden had to come off so Matt Cook went on at fullback and Sam Pollard moved up to centre on 26 mins. On the half hour, with Heath in possession ‘Ribb gave away a penalty and this time Hinchliffe converted to pull the scores level:
3 – 3.
The Heath team was working well now with a good run from Rob Thackray and Pollard and Cartwright each threatening. A good open game was developing with both sides ready to move the ball about but Heath edging it and finishing with a penalty just before half time to take the lead: 6 – 3.
Ollie Collinge started the second half in place of Kris Garland. Heath again began brightly and ‘Ribb gave away a penalty within 3 mins but Hinchliffe’s effort was just wide. Heath kept on the attack but the backs were panicking and not playing controlled rugby, with passes going to ground. Walsh got Pollard away with Thackray and Brown in support and a score looked certain but the man in possession was held up over the line on 51 mins.
Heath put ‘Ribb under sustained pressure with 3 successive scrums but there was no score. Ill-discipline from ‘Ribb came after they had been awarded a penalty so the referee reversed his decision and Heath took the three points to move further ahead: 9 – 3 on 56 mins. Olly Cook went off and Alex McFadden came on.
Then followed superb handling from Heath after the re-start with Pratt conspicuous in moving the ball around but a try was proving elusive. Next, Puttick received the ball out on the wing and ‘Ribb had to kick the ball dead after he had pushed it through.
It was all Heath now as ‘Ribb, under a lot pressure, gave away another penalty 5m out. Heath elected a scrimmage and from a planned move involving Walsh, Hinchliffe and a Pollard miss-pas,s Thackray went in for a try – much to the relief of the large home crowd. The conversion by Hinchliffe put Heath comfortably ahead at 16 – 3 on 64 mins.
The try seemed to give Heath confidence and a second followed from Downsborough after Hinchliffe and Brown passed brilliantly for the No. 8 to score on 68 mins. With Hinchliffe’s conversion the result was beyond doubt at 23 – 3. Ezra was having an outstanding game, whether dictating play from the centre or fly-half position.
A Walsh clearance kick put Thackray and Matt Cook on the charge with Heath dominating with 10 mins left. Puttick was injured and Garland came back on. Then Pollard scooped up a dropped pass by ‘Ribb and he made ground before shipping the ball out for Hinchliffe to round off a superb performance with a try in the corner which he also converted: 30 – 3.
‘Ribb had the final say with a try at the end of time to finish
30 – 8.
This was a thoroughly entertaining match for the crowd. Heath gave a good all-round performance and it was pleasing to see new formations begin to function well after a nervous beginning. Another feature was the absence of yellow-cards which made a welcome change from previous weeks. This win enabled Heath to begin to close the gap on other teams in the league.