Seven tries in bonus point away win
Young back division looks promising - and Robertshaw claims three tries
Barking 3 Heathfield 41
Heathfield collected a seven tries to nil away win on their first visit to this part of North East London. Away wins have been rare recently so this was very welcome, whatever the circumstances.
A firm dry pitch with a slight slope across and a variable breeze up that slope meant that conditions were good with no particular advantage either way. Heathfield soon scored a try as a succession of lineouts and forward drives provided good position and quick hands by Fraser Goatcher
gave Oli Robertshaw the space to dive over by the corner flag (0-5). This may have been a case of too easy, too soon and Barking immediately surged back, reclaimed the kick off and were then awarded a penalty under the posts (3-5). The bad news for Heathfield was compounded by hooker Ollie Stables having to retire with a serious calf injury and he was replaced by Tom ‘Shrek’ Watkins.
Barking were making this a good contest and had another penalty, from long range, drift wide. Much of the first half was scrappy and some afterwards commented that Heathfield had tried to keep the ball too tight at this stage. They certainly established a number of very effective drives and the scrummage, even with the unexpected rearrangement at hooker, had a clear edge. While this period may have lacked in open entertaining play, the visitors’ pack was doing the hard work that would reap benefits later, although it now made for a fairly turgid twenty minutes. Right wing Tristan Surgey
caught the eye with several excellent tackles and one lovely run around his opposite number.
On the half hour Fabian Rimmer
was binned for kicking the ball out of a ruck, a recent law change, but he was soon followed by the home fly half for some other misdemeanour at the breakdown. Heathfield were now pressing into the home 22 and a succession of dominant Heathfield scrums were finally rewarded by a penalty try (3-12). The home loose head was also binned at this point.
With little time left in the first half Barking charged back and were only just denied in the left hand corner. This was another example of poor execution by Heathfield at the restart as most of the home penetrations to the Heathfield 22 arose from such situations – but this will not have escaped notice by the Heathfield coaching team.
Visiting supporters were slightly on edge at half time. The poor away record in recent years and the closeness of the scores meant that the first score in the second half would be significant and probably decisive. In the event Henry Ross
produced a piece of outstanding skill, first with a turnover at the tackle followed by a run from twenty yards out to dive over in the corner, impressively converted by Harry Reilly
(3-19). Heathfield were now on top and another forward surge into the bottom corner was carried on by Ollie Smith before Robertshaw claimed his second on the day, and the try bonus point, in a heap of bodies (3-24).
As usual Barking counter-attacked effectively at the restart and the visitors were under some pressure in their own 22. Warren Wright
, who otherwise had an effective day, was now binned for taking down a lineout catch and drive, harshly in his view. However the Heathfield defence was generally decent all day with Gus Taylor and Dylan Eames
both getting praise for their efforts in this area. Eames also figured with some strong carries in a fine all round performance.
Pressure was starting to tell and gaps were appearing. A Barking attack on the half way line was turned over and a chip ahead was recovered for Robertshaw to arrive on cue for his third on the day (3-31). Rimmer had a delightful run down the left flank and showed good awareness as he looked for support that the cover only just contained.
The last two Heathfield scores came from good rugby that was based on the hard work put in earlier. First a lineout on the right hand side was moved wide left and Marcus Hendry
collected his first try at this level, confirming some very positive impressions on his recent contributions (3-36). Then Toby Simpson
burst off the bench with pace and skill to give Rimmer a deserved score.
Overall Reilly had another decent game and it was noticeable that he was being more vocal in his game management. This young Heathfield back division look to be growing in confidence and have plenty of great games in front of them
Barking have to be complimented for their spirit and resilience. The game finished with them pressing into the visitors’ half, albeit without reward. As a club they are having a tough season but they do have some decent material on which to build, Heathfield will look forward to Barking’s visit next year to deepest Sussex, not least to repay the most generous and friendly hospitality that we received today.
Results elsewhere, with some eye-catching results this week, suggest that this league is wide open with few straightforward fixtures – Heathfield are definitely in the mix.
Heathfield's 2nd and 3rd teams also won so the clubhouse was a happy place in the evening.
Next Saturday Heathfield entertain Beckenham (7 October 3.00) against whom Heathfield had two close and entertaining games last season with Beckenham claiming the spoils on both occasions.