Deal worthy winners but Heathfield salvage bonus point
Difficult journey and errors lead to disappointing performance
Deal & Betteshanger 32 Heathfield 25
Deal secured a five to three try home win over a disappointing Heathfield team who nonetheless collected a losing bonus point with the last kick of the match. Heathfield’s away form has been poor this year with no wins and today was their first away losing bonus point.
The visitors were not helped by a magical mystery tour of country lanes on their coach driver’s sat nav and traffic management around Dover which appears to be a assortment of random driver irritation measures for no specific reason. Too much time and effort can go into pre-match warmups but today Heathfield did not have the optimum preparations after a journey of well over two hours. And the fact that I have just knocked over a glass of wine is not improving my view of the day.
In early play Sam Goatcher made the first of his several well-judged positional kicks to give Heathfield a good attacking opportunity but the home defence proved adequate. Indeed soon afterwards the home team demonstrated one of their particular strengths with a lineout catch and drive from about 15 metres to provide the opening score (5-0).
Heathfield replied almost immediately with a Harry Reilly penalty following some good forward work including one of Ollie Stables’ useful carries (5-3). Then a few minutes later more Heathfield pressure saw Goatcher charge down a Deal kick and he eventually managed to regather the ball and elude the defence to collect his first try of the season, converted by Reilly (5-10).
Goatcher was playing today in spite of being red-carded last weekend and Heathfield are very appreciative of the way that Horsham made the match video available from that game which enabled the Disciplinary Panel to decide that Goatcher did not deserve any period of suspension.
Deal in turn had another good scoring chance but the final pass went wrong. There were chances at both ends in this period and the result was probably determined by Deal being the more clinical.
Heathfield now had an excellent scoring opportunity but a knock-on ended the opening and then Deal reduced the deficit with a penalty (8-10). With about ten minutes remaining in the half Deal collected an important score as a kick to the corner was fumbled by the visitors’ defence and a chaser collected a try in the corner, impressively converted (15-10).
At half time the game was definitely in the balance. Heathfield will have been pleased with the scrummage so far where they clearly had an edge but some Deal carriers appeared to be breaking tackles too easily with skilful and determined running. Not for the first time this year Heathfield were being limited by their own errors combined with Deal being more physically effective at the breakdown.
Henry Ross had a decent all-round game and he was the main lineout winner in the absence of the other usual receivers. The scrummage was more even in the second half until Fraser Goatcher, rested temporarily at half time, returned in the last quarter. But by then Deal were safely in control.
First the home lineout catch and drive gave them another straightforward try (20-10). Heathfield then had their main chance to achieve a result as three successive penalties in the right hand corner were just defended by the home team. It was no surprise when a Deal centre was then sin-binned soon afterwards and Reilly duly landed the resulting penalty (20-13). But the clinching moment came soon afterwards when Deal scored a try from a scrum with their left winger touching down in the corner somehow having yards of space in spite of their being a man short in the backs (25-13).
Heathfield were not daunted and Stables was hauled down just short of the try line. However at the other end yet more errors allowed the home back row to claim their fifth try (32-13).
With the result looking apparent Heathfield nonetheless finished strongly. F Goatcher scored a fine individual try from at least fifteen yards boshing his way through multiple defenders (32-18). Another surging Heathfield attack just failed as the final pass went astray but finally good hands took the ball into the corner and Lewis Headland dived over. The losing bonus point was secured with the final kick of the match by Reilly with the difficult conversion, from just a yard in from the touchline (32-25).
Deal were definitely the deserving winners as they took their chances better. Heathfield will be ruing their lack of accuracy. Nonetheless two more youngsters in Sean Crozier and Josh O’Reilly had their first experience at this level and both will have learned a great deal with O’Reilly getting particular compliments. All of this team are Heathfield people and bringing the Colts into adult rugby is critical to the future development of the club.
After a week’s respite Heathfield will be looking forward to their last home game of 2016 on 10th December when they entertain Hove in the first 1st team encounter between the two clubs for many years.