A superb all-round Heath performance!
Heath welcomed 2nd placed Malton & Norton to a rather damp North Dean. For Heath, back from World Cup duty with the Royal Air Force was Ian Downsborough. New signing Josh White made his home debut and taking a weekend out from university were Jack Sheldrake, Sam Pollard and Peter Birkett. Ben Hinsley returned after injury in a much-changed side from the one that lost at North Ribblesdale the week before. Jack Crabtree moved forward from full-back to fly-half in the absence of Sid Sales (injured).
The early pressure was from Heath with Crabtree kicking for position. It was all Heath during the opening phases and it was no surprise when Darren Neilly motored through a gap to open Heath’s account with an unconverted try on 10 mins, following good work by the scrum.
Next, Crabtree passed to Ezra Hinchliffe and he set up the next attack with Jack Sheldrake. On 18 mins, after a break from Dom Walsh, Hinchliffe put in a clever cross-kick but the bounce just eluded the chasing Sheldrake when a try looked ‘on’.
Heath continued to attack but they were not making the pressure count. At this stage, Malton were not in it and when Birkett collected a poor clearance and passed to Hinchliffe, he ran well before passing to Chris Piper who was held up over the line, on 22 mins. From the restart, Heath won the ball and Neilly went in for his second try in the corner on 23 mins. An excellent conversion by Hinchliffe made it 12 – 0.
It wasn’t until 25 mins that Malton mounted their first attack but Sheldrake’s tackle prevented a try in the corner. The visitors continued to press for a score, putting Heath on defence. Their continued pressure yielded a converted try on 32 mins - game on! Matt Beasty was injured and Fergus Marsden took his place. Heath came back strongly and were rewarded with a penalty on 38 mins as Malton began to buckle. Hinchliffe was successful with the kick: 15 – 7.
Malton missed a penalty kick as half time approached. When Heath stopped, waiting for the referee to blow for ‘crossing’, play continued and Heath gave away a second penalty which was converted: 15 – 10 at half time. This had been an excellent first half from Heath and a much-improved performance on the previous week.
After 5 mins of the second half, Coach Dave Harrison introduced Rondene Johnson and Sam Pollard and Matt Beasty had recovered so he went back on. Coming off were Howard Hanks, Piper and Sheldrake. Malton pushed forward and the ref awarded a penalty against Heath following what seemed to have been an exquisitely timed tackle.
They reduced the deficit to make the score 15 – 13 on 52 mins.
From the restart, Heath attacked and after a charge down by Dom Walsh, he scored a try which Hinchliffe converted to extend the lead: 22 – 13 on 54 mins. This seemed like justice! Heath were playing good, controlled rugby. Piper came back on for Alex McFadden for the last 20 mins of the game.
Malton were awarded a penalty, which they converted on 62 mins: 22 – 16. Undeterred, Heath bounced back and with Walsh urging his team on, they were rewarded with a penalty on 66 mins which Hinchliffe converted: 25 – 16. Malton were not yet done and they came storming back on the attack, looking for a try.
Piper was sin-binned on 71 mins. From the resulting scrum, with Heath a man down Malton scored a push-over try from 5 metres and the conversion closed the gap to
25 – 23. Malton were pressing to take the lead now and Heath were under the cosh.
With time running out, Heath were awarded a scrum after Malton knocked-on a ball cleared by Pollard and then Heath were awarded a penalty again. By now, they were playing 4 mins added time and Piper came back on for a tense finish to an excellent game.
A Malton penalty attempt hit the post and was cleared by Hinchliffe. Solid defending by Heath saw them wind the clock down. It was much to the relief of Heath’s players and supporters when the referee blew for full time and Heath had gained a memorable victory. Malton were left to rue their decision to run the ball after being awarded a penalty in a kickable position.
This was a superb all-round performance from the Heath squad and it moved them up to 7th place in the league.