Match Report: Saturday 27 February 2016

Reported by Roger Morley
FINAL SCORE: Heath RUFC 13 vs Bridlington RUFC 32

Heath struggle and kick away the game


On a cold, fine afternoon Heath welcomed 3rd-placed Bridlington to West Vale where the pitch was dry and firm underfoot, providing ideal playing conditions. Both teams were as selected. Heath followed the previous week, preferring Mark Sales to start at fly-half with Jack Crabtree on the bench.

In the first minute, Heath declined a penalty on the visitors’ 22m line smack in front of the posts and chose to run the ball. It came to naught! However, 5 minutes later a similar chance was offered and Ezra Hinchliffe made no mistake: 3- 0.

For the next few minutes Brid exerted pressure on the Heath line, providing a stern test of their defence, in which Ian Downsborough and Fergus Marsden were prominent. Unfortunately, a kick to touch by Brid was palmed down into the hands of their speedy winger Jack Arthur and he gratefully accepted it to score near the posts. The try was converted by William Davies: 3 – 7 on 12 mins.

Josh White led the response from Heath but the ball was kicked away when passes were required. Heath were clearly below par compared with the previous week at Malton.
In contrast, Brid were ‘on song’. Si Brown was fortunate only to concede a penalty after a deliberate knock-on to disrupt Brid’s momentum. After that, it was aerial ping-pong before Heath were found offside, leading to the Brid centre, Ryan Girking, scoring wide out on the end of a 2-man overlap. There was no conversion: 3 – 12 on 25 mins.

Heath were still at 6’s and 7’s. Rondene Johnson and Darren Neilly both made ground but Brid were clearly in command. They were penalized on half way and Hinchliffe found touch on the Brid 22. Heath won clean lineout ball and moved it out quickly but Cameron Ramsden was felled (late) before Brid won a scrum 20m from their line. Heath were swiftly up and the ball was knocked on by a Brid centre which gave Heath a scrum 15 metres out. Josh White was driven towards the Brid line but play was taken back to where Brid were penalized for an offence at the scrum. Heath were now looking stronger as they camped on the Brid line.

A relieving kick got Brid away from their line. It was collected by Sam Pollard but little progress was made and Brid kicked the ball into touch on the half way line. From this, a great try was scored by the outstanding Brid (Kiwi) fly-half, Matthew Welsh who went through unopposed on the end of a pass from Dirking: 3 – 17. Davies converted to make the score 3 – 19, 40 minutes after kick-off. Roll on half time!

Heath now showed signs of a move but the final pass was not given. Then, the ball was moved swiftly across the field in the direction of the other wing, Callum Harriot-Brown – but a prop was in the line and the final pass was not given. Brid were next to excite, with their No. 10, Welch running freely but his final pass went astray as the line beckoned. For Heath, Downsborough was always on the ball, disrupting Brid’s attacks.

Heath struggled in the scrums and kicked away too much possession to a well-drilled, strong side which didn’t lack pace. Half time brought a stern talking to from Coach Dave Harrison.

After the re-start, slick passing between the Brid three-quarters brought their fullback into the line but the final pass went direct into touch. Hinchliffe relieved pressure on Heath with a long kick to find touch 20m from the Brid line. A great drive followed, with Downsborough breaking through but he was adjudged to have lost the ball grounding it over the try line. Heath took charge at this point, 10m from the Brid line. Their cause was helped when the Brid prop ‘Pumba’ was eventually yellow-carded for persistent offences in the set piece.
Heath backs then produced a real handling move to put Pollard in at the corner: 8 – 19. Hinchliffe’s conversion made it 10 – 19 on 52 mins. For the next ten minutes, Heath were largely on the back foot requiring some frantic tackling before Hinchliffe cleared and the Brid prop came back on. At this point, 62 mins in, Heath made 3 substitutions: Jack Crabtree, Ollie Cook and Ryan Hunter on to replace Pollard, Johnson and Neilly.

Heath managed a series of passes before Brid were penalized 30m from the posts. Hinchliffe made no mistake to offer the prospect of (at worst) a losing bonus point: 13 – 19. Spectators were treated to 2nd-row Fergus Marsden side-stepping down the touchline before off-loading to Cook. Sadly, Cook was in touch. Soon after, Heath won a lineout in an attacking position but lost possession. This typified the afternoon which had been beset by unforced errors, for Heath.

Brid had a superb flyhalf in Welch. He never appeared short of options and had time to select the most appropriate. After Davies had kicked another penalty to extend the Brid lead to 13 – 22 on 33 mins, the visitors really upped the tempo using their pace and ball-retention skills to close Heath out of the game. Welch scored a try after slick passing between forwards and backs to make it 13 – 27 on 37 mins. The conversion attempt hit the posts.

To conclude the scoring, Brid’s fly half broke away again, eventually putting their No. 20 in for an unconverted try: 13 – 32. Brid took 5 points from this game to retain their league position. Meanwhile, Heath will be looking to match their effort at Malton when they entertain Bradford Salem at West Vale next week.


Tries 1 Drop Goals 0
Penalty Tries 0 Penalty Goals 2
Conversions 1 Attendance
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