Spirited performance gets Heath a point - and nearly more!
Heath welcomed league champions Doncaster Phoenix to a rather wet and windy North Dean hoping for damage limitation against an unbeaten side. With several players absent Heath needed to settle quickly but on 6 minutes they gave away a penalty in front of their own posts for the visitors to lead 0 – 3.
A good run from Dom Walsh, then Hamish Pratt and Darren Neilly, set up Heath’s first attack on 8 mins. Heath were finding the conditions difficult under foot. Scrum half Walsh had another good run after selling a dummy on 15 mins as Heath began to put the visitors under pressure. Next, Pratt won lineout ball and passed to Chris Piper who got Walsh, Ezra Hinchliffe and Gareth Webb on the move before the referee brought play back for offside. Hinchliffe levelled the scores with a penalty on 17 mins as the rain returned: 3 – 3.
Much against the run of play, Doncaster made a break and managed to score a try in the corner which was converted: 3 – 10 on 23 mins. This seemed to have opened the floodgates as, despite the efforts of Si Brown, a slip pass brought a second converted try two minutes later: 3 – 17 on 25 mins.
Undeterred, Heath came back again and when Neilly won lineout ball several phases followed through Pratt, Olly Cook and Rondene Johnson before Doncaster gave away a penalty which Hinchliffe converted to reduce the deficit: 6 – 17 on 32 mins. Emlyn James came on for Richard Dance in the 2nd Row.
Heath continued to battle and when Hinchliffe made a break Doncaster conceded a penalty. The fly-half obliged so it was 9 – 17 at half time. This had been a solid first half from Heath and the large crowd was happy with the way things were going.
The second half started brightly with a kick through from Si Brown but the referee brought play back. James and Cook were having an impact for Heath but once again the visitors broke away. A certain try looked on the cards but the referee ruled that there had been a forward pass. On 50 mins, Sam Pollard came on and Richard Dance returned – relieving Hughes and Jacob Storey.
On 53 mins, Eddie Cartwright chased a lofted kick from Walsh then tackled a Doncaster player in mid-air – for which he was sin-binned. On 62 mins a superb break by Pollard set up another Heath attack. Doncaster were making mistakes and beginning to look there for the taking. Cartwright came back on with Paddy Kerr replacing Dance on 65 mins.
After a mix-up on 68 mins, Matt Cook picked up smartly and set off on a long run for the try line but the cover came across and he was stopped 10m out. Heath continued to press and on 73 mins were awarded a penalty for offside at a scrum. Again, Hinchliffe stepped up to make it 12 – 17 with still time for a win. On 77 mins, Doncaster were penalised again and Hinchliffe’s success with the boot continued: 15 – 17 with time left and Heath definitely on top.
Caught up with the atmosphere, Piper offended and was sin-binned. Doncaster pressed forward and were awarded a penalty in front of the posts to produce a final score of 15 – 20 in the visitors’ favour.
This had been a superb performance from Heath for which all can be very proud. Although undefeated, Doncaster Phoenix were certainly humbled a little.