Match Report: Saturday 9 April 2016

Reported by Tomorgar
FINAL SCORE: Heath RUFC 14 vs West Park Leeds 8

Close!!

Heath were without Chris Piper, Mark Sales and Ian Downsborough from the team which beat Old Brodleians last week. Jack Sheldrake, Darren Neilly and Mark Puttick began on the bench and Rondene Johnson started at prop.

Heath made the worst possible start allowing the West Park Leeds (WPL) winger to romp in for an unconverted try: 0 – 5. The hosts battled back and on 6 mins launched their first real attack with a charge from Olly Cook who was held up just short of the try line. Halfbacks Dominic Walsh and Jack Crabtree were beginning to dictate play but on 12 mins and against the run of play, WPL were awarded a penalty. However, the attempt went just wide.

On 14 mins, a superb kick from Ezra Hinchliffe set up Heath’s next attack. At the lineout, Howard Hanks snapped up the ball and was joined by Fergus Marsden, Matt Beasty and Josh White who drove him over the try line but the referee adjudged ‘held up over the line’. From the resulting scrum, a WPL player seemed to be offside but the referee allowed play to go on.

WPL got away but conceded a penalty from which Heath found touch. Despite constant pressure, Heath could not breech the WPL defence and the visitors cleared their line well. On 25 mins an injury to Si Brown brought Sheldrake into the fray. WPL were getting on top at this stage and Coach Dave Harrison rang the changes for Heath, introducing Puttick and Neilly for Alex McFadden and Peter Birkett.

A charge-down try for WPL was disallowed on 30 mins as the home side withstood the pressure and Hinchliffe, Cameron Ramsden and Harriett-Brown linked well to produce some excellent rugby after good work from Cook and Neilly. Half time approached with Heath still in contention but needing to improve in the second half against a team which seemed to be handling and running almost with abandon, at times.

Stern words from Harrison at the interval were rewarded with a big improvement in Heath’s play but even after controlling possession they were still without a score on 50 mins and Hinchliffe then missed a relatively easy penalty. On 55min, Hanks and Johnson were taken off and McFadden and Birkett returned. After constant pressure, Cook was held up short. Then, following several scrums, Neilly and White went close before Birkett finally sped over in the corner on 63mins. The try was converted by Hinchliffe: 7 – 5.

Neilly was having an impact and McFadden looked strong as Crabtree got the team working hard in pursuit of another score. WPL were tiring and Heath were dominating at 70 mins. Crabtree had to go off so the versatile Birkett moved to stand off. WPL got lucky with a penalty awarded on 72 mins and they took the lead: 7 – 8.

Heath needed to respond, and quick! When Harriett-Brown put a clever kick through WPL did not deal with it and White, then Neilly were in support to get Cook very close to scoring before up popped Puttick to snatch the lead with a try in the corner. Hinchliffe converted and Heath were ‘out of jail’: 14 – 8.

WPL thought they had the final say when they touched down in the corner but the referee decided otherwise, blowing for offside. The final whistle followed. WPL players and supporters felt they had been very unlucky to lose! Heath remain at 8th position in the league.


HEATH RUFC MATCH STATISTICS
Tries 2 Drop Goals 0
Penalty Tries 0 Penalty Goals 0
Conversions 2 Attendance 150
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