Pressing hard at the end - strong second half nearly does it.
Heath opened their Yorkshire One season at West Vale with a tough encounter against Scarborough. Missing from last week were Alex McFadden, Ezra Hinchliffe and Fergus Marsden and they were replaced by Matt Baxendale, Olly Cook & Rondene Johnson with Emlyn James on the bench, as their coach Dave Harrison shuffled his options.
In good conditions, S’boro kicked off and the ball went straight into touch. As the sides tested each other out, the first chance fell to Scarborough on 6 mins and Harrison made no mistake with the straight penalty from just within the Heath half of the field: 0 – 3.
Constant pressure from the visitors produced another penalty on 12 minutes but the attempt at goal was unsuccessful. At this stage, it was all Scabs with Heath in some disarray. After 16 mins a good run from S’boro No.3 ended when he was pulled down just short but Heath gave away a penalty. This was taken very quickly and, almost before Heath knew it, a try had been scored which was converted to put them 0 – 10 behind!
Heath responded through their backs with both wingmen Callum Harriet-Brown and Matt Baxendale plus centres Jack Sheldrake and Ben Hinsley all involved. Scarboro conceded a penalty which was put into the corner and gave Heath the lineout 5 metres out, on 22 mins. Heath were unable to capitalise and S’boro escaped leaving Heath at 6’s & 7’s as they broke clear.
The visitors continued to dominate with good, open rugby and with Heath missing their tackles and struggling in the lineout it was no surprise when a second try came on 35 mins. The conversion was missed but S’boro were leading comfortably: 0 – 15. Then their No.4, Mikey Readman was sin-binned for a tripping offence. Could Heath capitalise on their numerical advantage?
Mark (Sid) Sales and Sheldrake set up an attack. The visitors gave away two penalties and Chris Piper ran strongly with Matt Beasty in support but, with Heath now on the visitors’ try-line the referee blew for half time!
Heath needed some strong words from coach Harrison if they were going to have any impact on this game. Howard Hanks and Emlyn James came on for Darren Neilly and Cook.
Heath were all fired up at the re-start and put in several strong runs before S’boro had to give away a penalty on 44 mins. Heath opted for a scrum and won another penalty as their pack gained control. Another penalty was awarded in front of the posts and again Heath chose to scrum but the east coast visitors won the ball and cleared.
Undeterred, Heath continued to attack with Sales feeding Hanks for a good run. Scrum-half Dominic Walsh then fed Sales who passed the ball out wide to Harriet-Brown but he was bundled into touch on the try line on 50 mins. Four minutes later, another Scarborough man was sin-binned as Heath continued to press. At the line-out, Ian Downsborough caught the ball and from a maul Hughes scored a try which Jack Crabtree calmly converted from wide out to get Heath on the score-board: 7 – 15 on 56 mins.
With a switch of positions, Heath were now winning line-out ball and playing with confidence. Chasing down a brilliant kick from Sales on 63 mins, Baxendale sprinted 40 metres to collect and score a great try, skilfully touching down as near the posts as he dare go to make the conversion less difficult. Crabtree obliged and Heath were right back in the game at 14 – 15.
The crowd were now up for it. Heath were rampant and Scarborough were panicking. A kick from Walsh saw them miss the ball and winger Harriet-Brown pounced. When Crabtree converted a penalty on 66 mins, Heath led for the first time: 17 – 15.
Following the re-start, Heath were not concentrating and from a clearance kick Scarborough waltzed over the line for an unconverted try to re-take the lead: 17 – 20 on 68 mins. It left all to play for with little over ten minutes remaining.
Heath were pressing on 76 mins and S’boro gave away a penalty. Crabtree made no mistake, levelling the scores at 20 – 20. The visitors continued to press but Crabtree safely marked a high ball. Neilly came back on after Hughes was injured. Heath were still attacking into injury time when an attempted drop goal, which would have secured a victory, fell short.
Heath ‘got out of jail’ in the second half with a sterling fight-back and in the end a draw was a fair result. It placed Heath 4th in the league - with a mouth-watering contest to look forward to next week - away at the league-leaders, Bradford & Bingley.