Young Heathfield team draw against bigger and more experienced Chichester II
Chichester win place kick shootout to advance to Bob Rogers Semi Final
Heathfield 19 Chichester II 19
Heathfield were finally knocked out of this Bob Rogers Sussex Cup quarter final after full time and extra time when they missed the first kick in the place kick shootout. However Heathfield Head Coach Dave Cook was afterwards delighted with the team performance and especially with the contributions from a number of young players.
On a grey drizzly day with a variable breeze generally down the slight slope, ball handling was often difficult and there were plentiful handling errors but both sides had confidence in their backs so this was a more open game than might have been expected from the conditions.
The visitors’ lineout looked in good order and they often used that to establish well-organised drives to gain useful yards. The kicking out of hand by both sides often lacked precision and offered good counter attack opportunities to the opposition back three.
Chichester opened the scoring with a try by their number 8 from a 5 metre set scrum, duly converted 0-7. However Heathfield responded very positively and now had a period of pressure into the top corner near the balcony, mainly through good work by the forwards continually taking it on. The visitors’ pack was noticeably bigger but the home pack ignored this with an excellent confrontational attitude. Dave Cook afterwards picked out Tom Pritchard for particular mention for his efforts but several others, with little previous first team experience, made serious contributions.
Towards the end of the half Chichester extended their lead with a fine counter-attacking try from deep but crucially the conversion was missed. However from the restart Heathfield knocked the ball out of the receivers’ grasp and Connor Davis retrieved the ball to drive it on into the 22 from where it was quickly worked wide into the left hand corner where Toby Warren collected an important try, well converted by Toby Simpson (7-12).
In the second half an early long range Heathfield penalty just drifted wide and much of the half was played at the visitors’ end.
Julian Porter had to retire soon after half time to spend more time with his family and for the rest of the game the larger Chichester pack had a slight edge in the scrummage. Ryan Vater came on to the back row as Chris Ambrosino moved up to hooker. Dan Canneaux replaced Warren Wright in the second row and both replacements did well.
Continuous Heathfield forward pressure, mitigated to some extent by the visitors’ scrummage, looked to have been contained but with just three minutes remaining skipper Munch May secured good ball in the left hand corner and it was quickly moved wide for Henry Armstrong to level the scores (12-12). May had a fine combative all round game. However the game winning conversion went wide so we were headed for extra time.
Both sides scored a try in the half that they had the benefit of the slope with Armstrong collecting his second on the day. However both were converted (19-19) so it was down to a place kick shootout in which the first Heathfield attempt went wide and the Chichester kicker made no mistake.
The Heathfield back division was mainly composed of occasional first team players and a couple of new faces but they consistently showed a very positive approach with plentiful line breaks, albeit also with too many handling errors as conditions took their toll.
The visitors’ pack was probably the key factor on the day as their greater bulk and experience took its toll. Indeed it was pleasant to see that a couple of Heathfield ladies team were afterwards keen to talk to one of the visitors’ back row, presumably to discuss finer points of technique.
Next Saturday Heathfield entertain old rivals Deal & Betteshanger in a London SE2 league match that is important to both clubs (18 November 2.30).
Cooley Watkins Porter Wright Davis Ambrosino Pritchard Cornwall May Foster Armstrong Surgey Warren Tyler Simpson Replacements Vater Ward Handrihan Canneaux