Heath play plenty well enough to win!
Heath travelled to York in confident mood having notched a win the previous week against North Ribblesdale. The back line-up was different once again with Si Brown in the unusual position of fly half to enable Ezra Hinchliffe to continue in the centre alongside a newcomer Gareth Webb. Perched 4th in the league with 4 wins under their belt York also started with confidence. An interesting afternoon was expected and so it proved!
Against a strong wind in the first half, Heath kicked off down the slope. In the early exchanges they gave away a penalty which George Davies converted on 5 mins: 3 – 0.
Heath bounced straight back with Darren Neilly and Ollie Collinge making good yardage before York knocked-on a kick-through from Dom Walsh.
A strong scrimmage by Heath was among good early signs as they kept the pressure on but it was York who had a break-away on 12 mins. Si Brown made a super tackle to interrupt the flow but he was penalized for not releasing. Fortunately for Heath the kick was wide of the mark and the score remained 3 – 0.
Great scrimmaging continued with Ian Downsborough powering off the back and Sam Pollard and Rob Thackray involved as Heath attacked. The travelling supporters thought Heath seemed to be being penalized unfairly and from one of the decisions on 21 mins Davies increased the home lead to 6 – 0. A further penalty was missed 2 mins later and Heath were in trouble at this time. They re-grouped and good work from Hamish Pratt, Mark Puttick, Darren Neilly and Will Sellars set up an attack but York cleared their line on 28 mins.
As half time approached, Heath would have been satisfied to turn around at 6 – 0 but sadly they lost concentration and a defensive lapse allowed York’s centre Chris Nicholson to score an unconverted try on 37 mins: 11 – 0. Heath were still contesting strongly when the referee blew for half time.
Heath began the second half with a strong wind at their backs. A long kick and chase by Si Brown took York by surprise and almost yielded a try but the ball ran dead. From the restart, the ball came out to Jack Sheldrake and he also pushed the ball through but York cleared to touch. However, Heath continued to press and Neilly went close on the other side of the pitch before Walsh fed Downsborough for the No. 8 to go over for a try near the corner flag on 46 mins. Hinchliffe missed the conversion: 11 – 5. Kris Garland and Ollie Cook came on for Alex McFadden and Collinge.
Heath were attacking well now with Brown, Hinchliffe, Pollard and Sheldrake prominent. The wrong option was taken when Heath took a penalty. Garland was sin-binned but York couldn’t find touch. Walsh gathered and came inside to feed Thackray and Pratt before Sheldrake got the ball. He cleverly chipped over the defence and then went on to collect a perfect bounce to score at the posts. Hinchliffe made no mistake with the conversion and Heath were in the lead on 54 mins: 11 – 12.
York were straight back on the attack and a tackle by Hinchliffe prevented a try being scored but the referee then brought play back for an earlier tackle and Davies slotted the penalty to restore York’s lead on 62 mins: 14 – 12. Hinchliffe then made an important and superb kick to enable a Heath lineout on the York try-line on 64 mins. The ball went dead but the restart was charged down to keep Heath on the attack. York withstood the pressure.
On 70 mins, Sellars was sin-binned for not being 10 metres from play. York’s continued drive paid off with a try which might well have been disputed (but wasn’t), converted by Davies on 76 mins: 21 – 12. From the re-start York broke clear again and Davies scored their bonus-point try: 26 – 12. Heath did not deserve this margin after battling hard for 70 mins and they were rewarded for a valiant effort when Thackray powerfully sprinted through, to go over for a try, converted by Hinchliffe with one minute of injury time remaining: 26 – 19.
Thus, Heath took home only a losing bonus point from a game which they could and should have won. Once again, they are being forced to consider the consequences of being reduced to 14 men for a quarter of the match.