Match Report: Saturday 21 March 2015

Reported by Tomorgar
FINAL SCORE: Pontefract RUFC 21 vs Heath RUFC 25

Command performance from Heath pack sinks Pontefract

For a ‘must-win’ game, Heath travelled to bottom club Pontefract looking to leave with the vital points in their quest to retain Yorkshire One status. Martin Moana and Imad Nazir were drafted into the team along with Eddie Cartwright and Ryan Hunter.

Nazir was quickly into the action with a huge clearance kick after 2 mins as Heath exerted pressure. A long throw to Ian Downsborough set Heath on the attack but as the ball was passed across via Dom Walsh and Dave Montgomery it was lost and Pontefract’s lightening wingman, Jordan Gill, ran almost the length of the field to score a try under the posts. Andy Dean converted and the home side were 7 – 0 in front after 10 mins. From the re-start, Pontefract collected but gave away a penalty for crossing. Heath’s Cartwright’s shot at goal went wide.

Heath were winning scrums but had no answer to the Pontefract back line and from another break centre Richard Dedicoat coasted in and the conversion made it 14 – 0 on 15 mins. Heath needed a rapid response but it was Pontefract who broke again for what looked certain to be another score under the posts. To Heath’s relief, the home side were pulled back for a forward pass.

A good clearance from Walsh set the visitors on the attack and Ryan Hunter took the lineout but when Heath were caught offside their threat was gone. Next, Walsh released Hamish Pratt and Montgomery and Pontefract were forced to concede a penalty which Cartwright converted to open Heath’s account: 14 – 3 after 25 mins. Excellent scrum control and pick up by No.8 Ian Downsborough, was followed by interplay between Walsh and flanker Montgomery before the final pass went to Si Brown for him to score a try. The conversion attempt was just wide: 14 – 8 after 28 mins.

Heath were working hard now, led by captain Mark Puttick with props Chris Piper and Rondene Johnson in support. Despite their efforts, the Pontefract defence held firm.

Pontefract kicked off down the hill to start the second half on the attack. Heath stood their ground and eventually Downsborough and Olly Cook broke free. Heath controlled the next scrum and Downsborough picked up to score a try and a great conversion from Cartwright put Heath in front: 14 – 15 on 48 mins. The visitors were really pushing now and a penalty on 50 mins allowed Cartwright to extend their lead to 14 – 18.

Determined Pontefract almost scored a try but a good tackle from Cartwright prevented it. Then Nazir had to be replaced and this brought Depledge on. A major re-shuffle followed with Moana moving to fly-half and Montgomery to centre. Pontefract broke clear and from a scrum on the half way line the ball came out to the wing. His clever kick inside to a team-mate lurking in anticipation produced a try under the posts which was converted to make it 21 – 18 to the hosts on 60 mins.

Heath bounced back led by Downsborough storming through but his pass to Montgomery was adjudged forward with the try-line beckoning. At the scrum, Pontefract had no answer as Heath took control. Jacob Storey came on for Kyle Tetley on 64 mins and Gareth Webb made good yardage before being brought to ground. Thereafter, Heath camped no more than 10m from the Pontefract line. The home team’s tackling was tremendous and Heath were denied, despite the efforts of Pratt, Moana, Downsbrough and Piper. Eventually, the pressure told and from a scrum Moana timed a pass to perfection for Montgomery to gallop through for a try. Cartwright converted to make it 21 – 25 with 7 mins remaining.

Heath kept hold of the ball from the re-start and made excellent ground. Their excellent ball-retention foiled any possibility of a break out by the dangerous Pontefract backs as they wound the clock down, ending up in the corner. Piper was one of several Heath players held up over the line. Heath won the last scrum and Downsborough kicked the ball off the field for a momentous win.

This win puts Heath 10 points ahead of their nearest challengers with only 3 games remaining.

Tries 3 Drop Goals 0
Penalty Tries 0 Penalty Goals 2
Conversions 2 Attendance 500
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