Crowborough U23 0 Heathfield U23 26
Original text by Steph Bayly and Jeannette Hastings
On a sunny but cold day a rare Under 23 match with a very early kickoff because of the World Cup Final saw Heathfield beat Crowborough by four tries to nil.
Many of the Heathfield team have not played together for some years as some are still Colts and initially this lack of playing time together showed with most of the play centred on and around the half way line. Both sides were making errors resulting in turnovers and many scrums with Crowborough showing greater strength in that area.
However otherwise Heathfield were looking threatening but due to errors never quite finishing. Toby Warren was noted with some strong tackles and Ethan Walker was making plenty of impact on his wing with captain David Bayly featuring everywhere in attack and defence. The surface was softer and slower than Heathfield are used to at home so Lucas Cuming and Chester Duff were sensibly adapting their tactics to use grubber kicks for others to run on to. and this was working well. Eventually after 26 minutes Tom Faraone gave the ball to Toby Warren near the halfway line with just enough space and he collected a fine try, converted by Cuming (0 – 7).
Heathfield side now made three substitutions so as to get everyone as much game time as possible. These changes didn’t seem to affect the momentum of the game, as Heathfield continued to mount pressure on the Crowborough defensive line. Crowborough had some late drop-outs so were only able to field a 15 with no replacements.
As the possession and territory began to mount, it was only a matter of time before Heathfield broke through the make-shift Crowborough backline. A line-out 15 metres out resulted in clean ball for Heathfield which was then recycled well for a couple of phases left and right before a gap was found by Duff where he drifted through the line to touchdown (somewhat contentiously). His attempted conversion hit the upright (0-12).
The second half saw a similar pattern with plenty of errors and turnovers and with the visitors generally having more possession and position. Ed Koops was making an impact and Jack Smith had a couple of useful runs. Duff now recovered one of his own grubber kicks and then broke through a couple of tackles on his way to the line, this time succeeding with the conversion (0-19).
In spite of their limited personnel Crowborough were by no means downhearted and one attack reached the visitors’ 5 metre line before being tackled into touch. Bayly was injured in the resulting lineout. Crowborough continued to have a good spell with better territory and possession and one of their wings looked certain to score had Joe Hastings not made a try saving tackle. The game remained in the Heathfield half for much of the last 15 minutes. However a tenacious Tom Keylock tackled the Crowborough No 9 and the ball was recovered, then moved wide through the hands of Warren and Duff before Walker ran through the Crowborough defence from just outside his own 22, much to his surprise. His strength and speed getting him across the line before his legs gave out. Duff then converted in the last play of the game (0- 26).
It was an enjoyable fixture played in good spirits by both sides. The referee had a good game allowing play to flow with little interruption the best he could under difficult playing conditions.
Heathfield will take pleasure from the fact that of the 25 people who have played in the senior 1st team this season, eight are 21 or younger. The junior section is producing good players and their transition to the senior section is working better than previously.
The next Heathfield senior fixture is a London SE3 League game at Eastbourne (7 Nov 2.30).
1 Eric Tamsen
2 Olly Stables
3 Tom Allen
4 Sammi Keylock
5 Ed Koops
6 Jack Smith
7 Ben Jones
8 David Bayly (C)
9 Tom Faraone
10 Joe Hastings
11 Lucas Cuming
12 Ethan Walker
13 Toby Warren
14 Ryan Hughes
15 Joe Sandford
16 Chester Duff
Updated 16:50 - 4 Nov 2015 by Philip Bell
17 Tom Keylock
18 Jeremey Burdett