Poor way to end the year.
For Heath’s faithful travelling supporters, there was an element of déjà-vu about this game.
Heath travelled to the East Coast to take on rivals Scarborough in their first game in December. Sam Pollard was a late withdrawal so Jack Crabtree stepped in at fullback with Ezra Hinchliffe moving to centre. Jacob Storey came on to the bench along with Jack Blackall, in for Kris Garland.
In good but windy conditions, Heath kicked off with the wind at their backs and were quickly into the home side’s half. A clever kick from Crabtree had Matt Baxendale chasing through on 5 mins. Heath had control of the scrums with Daz Neilly, Howard Hanks and Josh White to the fore. Heath made significant breaks in the first ten minutes.
Following injuries to two Scarborough players, the home side conceded a penalty but Hinchliffe was just wide with his attempt on 13 mins. Next, Si Brown and Fergus Marsden made ground as Heath probed for a breakthrough. On 20 mins, Scarborough made their first foray into the Heath 22 and from a rolling maul they scored a try, against the run of play, to go in front: 5 – 0.
Heath came back strongly and Alex McFadden and White were instrumental in setting up attacks that resulted in Scarborough giving away a penalty on 27 mins for Hinchliffe to pull the score back: 5 – 3. However, once again against the run of play, after a Scarborough centre broke through, the ball was moved to their prop Wesley Langkilde and he went over for a second unconverted try: 10 – 3 on 37 mins.
As half time approached, a quickly taken penalty by Dom Walsh set up Hinchliffe for a run. Sid Sales became involved as Heath pressed for an opening but Scarborough stood firm. After the half had finished, the referee Mike Ramsden was left prone on the ground, following an accidental collision as both teams left the pitch. He received attention and, fortunately, he was able to continue.
The second half started with Rondene Johnson on for Chris Piper and Jack Blackhall took Howard Hanks’ place. Scarborough showed how to use the conditions and when Ben Hinsley was sin-binned for an intentional foul, they increased their lead to 13 – 3. Heath were no longer ‘at the races’ and on 48 mins, Scarborough stormed through for their third try which was converted to extend the lead to 20 – 3. From the restart, the ball travelled 10 metres but the wind blew it back and Scarborough took advantage to score their bonus-point try, stretching their lead to 25 – 3 on 52 mins.
On 54 mins, Sales and Mark Puttick were taken off and Piper returned with Jacob Storey who took over at fullback with Crabtree moving into a pivotal role at fly half. Thereafter, Heath’s performance quickened and an excellent run from Baxendale spurred the team into action. Hinsley returned on 57 mins after an expensive sin-binning which cost Heath 12 points.
A Heath attack saw Walsh touch down following good work from White and Hinchliffe’s conversion narrowed the gap to 25 – 10 with 20 mins remaining. However, from the restart uncertainty between Heath players let Scarborough in for a ‘soft’ try. After an altercation, Scarborough’s No.16 was sent off but when the try was converted Heath were 32 – 10 down.
Standards began to drop, which didn’t help, and both sides needed to get back to playing rugby. Scarborough had a fifth sin-binning as ill-discipline kicked in, not allowing Heath to play.
This was a disappointing end to 2015 for Heath and their hard-core band of supporters who have rarely seen the team rise to the occasion on this splendid east-coast ground. After the Christmas break, all eyes will turn to the visit of league-leaders Bradford & Bingley to North Dean on 9th January 2016.