Conditions dictate game.
Mark Sales returned from a two-week holiday to replace Jack Crabtree at standoff, Matt Beasty was back from injury and Cameron Ramsden was free of work commitments thus enabling Heath to ring the changes after last weeks’ defeat at Old Brodleians.
On the bench were Owen Williamson, Kris Garland, Peter Birkett and a new signing from South Africa, Dominic Giroud.
In damp, wet conditions the visitors kicked off and from the start players had difficulty handling the ball. Heath’s first attack after 6 mins followed Dom Walsh charging down a clearance kick but Heath could not take advantage. Ezra Hinchliffe, from fullback, was putting in some telling kicks to find touch. Josh White in the backrow had two good runs as the sides tested each other out in the first quarter of an hour.
It wasn’t until the 23rd minute that Malton opened their account with their first real attack leading to a try and conversion: 0 – 7. Heath need to respond and straight from the kick-off clever play saw a kick to the corner but Callum Harriett-Brown just failed to touch down. Next, a superb kick from Hinchliffe produced a knock-on from the Malton fullback resulting in a scrum 5m out from the visitors’ try-line. Darren Neilly and Mark Puttick both went close but Malton held firm on 28 mins.
Kris Garland and Peter Birkett came on for Rondene Johnson and Mark Puttick and Birkett had an immediate impact following clever play from the Heath scrum but he was bundled into touch 10m out. Then a cross-field kick from Hinchliffe set up Si Brown as Heath searched for a breakthrough on 35 mins. Then, Sales dummied and nearly scored and the constant pressure eventually paid dividends when Heath were awarded a penalty in front of the posts. Hinchliffe made no mistake: 3 – 7 as half time approached.
It was a hard first half, played in appalling conditions.
Heath began the second half challenging for a breakthrough but they were denied by a very resilient Malton defence. After 50 mins, Giroud and Williamson came on for Beasty and Ramsden. Heath were awarded a penalty but missed the relatively easy conversion on 53 mins.
Heath continued to press and Giroud made his presence felt with a powerful run which finished with Sales finding touch 10m from the Malton try-line. On 60 mins, Puttick and Johnson came back on for Chris Piper and Kris Garland.
Time was running out for Heath as Malton stood their ground and the visitors were awarded a penalty on 67 mins but the kick fell short. However, Heath knocked on from the next scrum and Malton were awarded another, much easier, penalty and this time they added 3 points to extend their lead to 3 – 10 on 70 mins.
Malton were finishing the stronger side, putting Heath under a great deal of pressure. One final push from Heath did not pay dividends and Malton ran the clock down for a hard-fought victory. This was a disappointing result for Heath who will now have to concentrate on the league.
The match was a credit to both sides who endeavoured to play rugby throughout in conditions which deteriorated from appalling to atrocious. The only brief respite from torrential downpour followed immediately after the final whistle!