6 try, excellent, controlled start to the League campaign.
Heath travelled to Leeds to take on Yarnbury for the opening fixture of the Yorkshire One campaign with several new faces in their line-up. They were hoping to put on a good performance under new coaches Dave Harrison, Mark Sales and Chris Brown.
Heath kicked off in glorious conditions and Yarnbury were quickly on the attack. Darren Neilly was penalised in the first minute and, from the resulting lineout after Yarnbury had opted to find touch, the Heath midfield defence was opened up for the home side to score their first converted try after 3 mins: 7 – 0.
From the re-start Yarnbury went straight on the attack and, with several refereeing decisions going against Heath, they seemed to have the advantage. However, Jack Crabtree was playing well at full-back for Heath and he set up several attacks involving Mark Sales, Callum Harriet-Brown and Jack Sheldrake as the visitors looked for a breakthrough.
After a period of sustained pressure from Heath, Yarnbury broke from deep in their own 22 to score a try after running almost the length of the pitch: 14 – 0 after 22 mins. Things were looking ominous for Heath as their lack of practice from any game the previous Saturday was being exposed. However, prop Chris Piper picked up the mantle, supported by fly-half Sales and Ian Downsborough (No 7) and the try-line beckoned. Yarnbury were now under the cosh and gave away a penalty from a scrum. Heath’s pack surged forward and No 8 Neilly picked up to score a try. The conversion was missed but Heath were back in the game: 14 – 5 on 24 mins.
Scrum half Dom Walsh’s kicking game set up Heath’s next attack and he found touch in the Yarnbury 22. Heath continued to press. An injury to captain Mark Puttick saw Olly Cook enter the fray and Jacob Storey temporarily replaced Ezra Hinchliffe (blood bin). Centre Ben Hinsley went close to opening his account, then Sales set Jack Sheldrake running but he was held up as Yarnbury struggled to contain Heath. Downsborough was there again for Heath’s second try which Hinchliffe converted to make the score 14 – 12 when the referee blew for half time.
With Puttick back on and Cook off, Heath went straight on the attack after half time. Harriett-Brown stole the ball to set up Hinchliffe and he kicked through but Yarnbury managed to clear. Heath were resurgent and after good work Hinsley popped the ball to Sales, who passed out to Hinchliffe. From the final pass of the sequence, Sheldrake scored Heath’s 3rd try and this put Heath in the lead for the first time: 17 – 14 on 45 mins.
Heath’s pack were superb and a good run from Matt Beasty had Downsborough in support to storm over the line for a try (converted by Hinchliffe) making the score 24 – 14 on 50 mins. Yarnbury were shell-shocked. Howard Hanks came on for Naz Salama in Heath’s back row.
Hinchliffe (looking very comfortable in the centre) broke clear again but could not get his pass out. Yarnbury were unsettled and excellent handling across the whole back line created some space for Harriett-Brown to score the best try of the game, which Hinchliffe converted: 31-14 on 57 mins. Cook came on for Piper.
Heath were playing good, flowing rugby now with lots of confidence. This showed on 65 mins when Hinchliffe side-stepped his way through for Heath’s 6th try as they took control: 36 – 14. Storey came on for Sales and Crabtree moved to fly-half.
To the home side’s credit, they kept battling on, but sterling work from Heath’s defence kept them at bay until just before the final whistle when Yarnbury scored a consolation try under the posts. The conversion left the final score 36 – 21. A great start for Heath’s new coaching team.