Heartbreak for Heath - rough justice for magnificent effort!
Heath travelled to 2nd-placed Malton & Norton looking to cause an upset and complete the double after winning 25 – 23 in the home game at North Dean. Heath were as selected with Ian Downsborough and Si Brown returning to the team.
It was a solid start from Heath with Cameron Ramsden and Callum Harriott-Brown soon involved. Heath settled down well with Sam Pollard looking safe at fullback. It was all good for the first 10 mins and Heath were rewarded for their efforts with a penalty on 13 mins, converted by Ezra Hinchliffe for a well-deserved lead: 0 – 3.
Malton’s first real foray into the Heath half came on 17 mins but they were making too many mistakes and with Heath winning line-out ball, the visitors were in control. However, Malton persevered and put together a surge with their scrum winning good ball and they came up with a converted try on 27 mins to lead 7 – 3. On 30 mins Mark Puttick and Darren Neilly were on for Alex McFadden and Ryan Hunter as the Heath coach freshened up his forwards.
Neilly and Chris Piper were in the thick of things but after a great run Puttick was stretchered off following an horrendous tackle off the ball which went unpunished. At the same time, another Malton player obstructed the Heath move and he was sin-binned. A successful penalty kick closed the difference to 7 – 6. McFadden came back on for Puttick.
Malton were guilty of too many fouls and another penalty on 36 mins allowed Hinchliffe to give Heath the lead: 7 – 9. Heath were on the attack now with Dominic Walsh, Fergus Marsden and Ramsden making ground. Heath had a scrum 10 metres out on 39 mins but Malton held out and kicked the ball into touch to bring on half time.
This had been an excellent first 40 mins from Heath and Malton had to improve. They began the second half with a storming attack but Heath’s defence stood firm. Hinchliffe collected a high kick and his clearance was chased down by Harriott-Brown. Hinchliffe was up in support and as he raced for the line to follow up his short kick through he was cynically taken out by Malton’s fullback, who was sin-binned. Heath continued attacking and the referee spoke to the Malton captain.
There were constant infringements and after Heath won lineout ball a penalty try was awarded on 54 mins. Hinchliffe converted and Heath led: 7 – 16. Piper had to go off with a shoulder injury and Howard Hanks came. Malton were all at sixes and sevens, giving penalties away and on 58 mins Hinchliffe increased the visitors’ lead to 7 – 19. However, Malton’s response was immediate with their captain going in for a try on 59 mins after a lapse in concentration by Heath. With the conversion, the score was 14 – 19.
Malton were now right back in the game and Heath were under the cosh. Peter Birkett was injured putting his body on the line, which brought Hunter back on, on 65 mins. It was only a matter of time as Malton turned the screw and a try came on 65 mins. With the conversion the home team were in the driving seat at 21 – 19.
Heath would not give in and put constant pressure on the Malton defence but were unable to find a way through. When the final whistle sounded, it was Malton who were relieved to get away with a win and a desperately disappointed Heath side had only a losing bonus point to show from coming so close.