Heath finish on a well earned Double!
Heath made their way to the East Coast for the second week running to play Hullensians in their final league game – looking to go out with a bang and register their second double of the season, having defeated Hullensians in the opening league encounter back in September.
They fielded virtually the same team which narrowly lost at Scarborough, the only addition (to the bench) being Ian Downsborough, returned from representing the RAF against the Royal Navy and still feeling the after- effects.
In superb conditions on a big, flat, open pitch Heath kicked off and in their first real attack a kick-and-chase from Gareth Webb saw Hullensians have to clear their lines with a kick into touch. Heath kept up the pressure and after Chris Piper and Mark Puttick charged through, Dom Walsh came up with the ball, sold a dummy and went over. The try was converted by Ezra Hinchliffe and Heath led 0 – 7 on 4mins. After this exciting start there followed a period of open play for about 15 mins as both sides tested each other out, throwing the ball out wide.
On 19 mins, Jack Sheldrake made a scything run through the centre to set up Walsh in support and a try looked certain for Webb but the pass was low and was knocked on 10 metres from the home line. Resulting from the same good work, the Heath pack forced the home side to give away a penalty allowing Hinchliffe to increase the lead to 0 – 10 on 20 mins.
From the restart, the Hullensians pack regrouped and attacked the Heath line. Trying to intercept a pass, Sheldrake was adjudged intentionally to have knocked the ball down and was penalised and sin-binned - outcome: Hullensians 3 – Heath 10, on 23 mins.
Heath were struggling at this stage but defended well, helped by several huge clearances from Hinchliffe. From the last one, a penalty was awarded and Hinchliffe restored Heath’s 10-point lead on 31 mins: 3 – 13.
Sheldrake returned and there had been no damage to Heath’s position. Shortly afterwards, on 35 mins, a Hullensians player was sinned-binned for throwing punches. Heath needed to make their superior pack number count and they did! The visitors pushed hard, the ball popped out and Walsh was there to pick up and go over for his second try. The conversion was missed but Heath were in control as half time approached: 3 – 18.
Heath had put in a solid first half and deserved to be in front. From the re-start Si Brown came on for Cameron Ramsden as Heath found themselves immediately under the cosh. After holding out, they eventually opened up for a converted try on 45 mins to put the hosts back in the game at 10 – 18.
Heath bounced straight back and earned a penalty after good runs from Olly Cook, Ryan Hunter and Chris Piper. Hinchliffe’s shot was on target and Heath lead 10 – 21 on 48 mins.
Sheldrake got the ball from the re-start and his huge punt set up Heath’s next attack as the ball found touch. Next, props Piper and Rondene Johnson made a break following Jacob Storey’s run after Heath had re-formed. However, on 53 mins a break from Hullensians down the wing produced a try in the corner. An excellent conversion put the home side right back in the game at 17 – 21.
Alex McFadden came on for Piper and to help Hamish Pratt who was striving to get Heath working again with several good runs. Eventually, the visitors’ pressure told as Hullensians were pushed back. A mistake was snapped up by Sheldrake, supported by Darren Neilly and the ball was passed from Walsh to Brown to Storey for the latter to score the 3rd unconverted try: 17 – 26 on 66 mins.
Piper came back on for Johnson and Downsborough for Gaz Owen, as Heath looked to keep the lead secure and hunt for the elusive 4th (and bonus) try. A penalty chance went begging for Heath on 68mins. As the clock began to wind down, play became scrappy before full time arrived.
Heath had achieved the day’s ambition: to complete the season with a league winning double!