Match Report: Saturday 6 February 2016

Reported by Tomorgar
FINAL SCORE: West Park Leeds 25 vs Heath RUFC 35

First time on Astro brings a win.

Heath travelled to bottom club West Park Leeds looking for back to back victories in their bid to climb up the table as they played catch up with postponed games. Continual rain throughout the morning meant the first team grass pitch was deemed unplayable and so Heath played their first ever league match on the Leeds club’s astro turf. Chris Piper had not recovered from injury and Cameron Ramsden and Dominic Walsh had work commitments so in came Darren Neilly into the scrum and Callum Harriet-Brown onto the wing - as coach Dave Harrison shuffled players around to accommodate. On the bench Paddy Kerr joined Ryan Hunter and Mark Sales.

With the rain still coming down, Heath kicked off playing against a strong wind and had the best possible start when Matt Baxendale picked up a loose ball and sped towards the try line before being caught by the home side full back. From the resultant play Jack Crabtree linked with Ezra Hinchliffe whose astute pass to prop Rondene Johnson saw him go in for the opening try under the posts, converted by Hinchliffe and Heath led 7-0 after two minutes.

Undeterred the home side came straight back at Heath and went over in the corner for an unconverted try before adding a penalty and so led 8-7 with eight minutes on the clock. Heath gradually pulled themselves back into the game and a clever kick from Jack Crabtree saw West Park pulled up for offside and Hinchliffe’s penalty put Heath back in front 10-8 on thirteen minutes.

Heath’s No.8, Josh White, was beginning to have an influence on the game but Heath were not winning line out ball and, from a mistake, the home side pounced and went under the posts for a converted try to lead 15-10 with twenty five minutes on the clock. The surface was having a big say in the pace of the game and points were a plenty for both sides. Peter Birkett was to figure prominently in the next Heath attack and, with Daz Neilly working well at the breakdown, when Heath had a scrum five metres from the home side’s line it came as no surprise to see the ball moved along the back line through Crabtree, Hinchliffe and Sam Pollard - whose delayed pass to Callum Harriet-Brown saw the winger go over in the corner for a converted try and Heath led 17-15 with thirty minutes gone.

The final ten minutes of the half saw West Park mount an assault on the Heath defence and Mark Puttick was sin binned and a tap tackle from Pollard preserved Heaths lead as half time came.

West Park continued their attack on Heath but the visitors’ defence stood firm at the start of the second half. The pressure was relieved when Hinchliffe converted a penalty on forty eight minutes to increase the lead to 20-15 before Si Brown charged down an attempted clearance to go over for Heath’s third try on fifty two minutes and Heath seemed in control 25-15.

West Park missed a couple of penalty chances as Heath continued to look for a bonus point fourth try. Harrison brought on Ryan Hunter for Matt Baxendale after fifty five minutes but a nasty collision between Crabtree and Brown saw the latter leave the pitch and as well as Sam Pollard being sin binned it was all change as Mark Sales came on after sixty minutes. Heath quickly re-grouped and a superb run from Fergus Marsden was only stopped by a home side infringement. The penalty from Hinchliffe increased the lead to 28-15 and Josh White rounded off another swift play from Heath to score the bonus point try and conversion and Heath were romping it 35-15 after sixty five minutes.

A nasty injury to Jack Crabtree saw Paddy Kerr enter the field of play with just over ten minutes left on the clock. West Park would not lie down and mounted a series of attacks on the Heath defence and Peter Birkett saved a certain try before the Leeds side scored two tries in the space of four minutes to pull the score back to 35-25 in Heath’s favour. This was the last real action of the game as Heath wound the clock down to gain a valuable bonus point win which lifts them up the table and they now hold top spot as the highest placed Halifax club in the Yorkshire Leagues.

With the visit of North Ribblesdale next week the club will be looking to climb even further into a top six position.

HEATH RUFC MATCH STATISTICS
Tries 4 Drop Goals 0
Penalty Tries 0 Penalty Goals 3
Conversions 3 Attendance 50
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