Horsham 0 Heathfield 3
Heathfield 3’s secured, just, the Sussex Vase in a closely fought match against Horsham 3s at Burgess Hill.
This caps very a successful year for Heathfield with the Colts being the League winners in Sussex and the 1st team reaching the National Semifinal in the RFU Senior Vase and winning promotion to London SE 2 (level 7 nationally).
The game was decided when Paddy O’Hara kicked a penalty hallway through the second half for the only points in the game. The scoreline does not give a fair reflection on a very entertaining game between two well-matched sides. Both had a good mixture of ages, stature and skill. Many knowledgeable spectators, and there was a good crowd, commented appreciatively on the skill level, especially in the first half. In the second half a hard surface, even with a decent covering of grass, fierce competition and a warm day took its toll with plentiful retirements for injury. The skill level dropped as heat and age made their impact but the result was in doubt till the end.
This is not a full match report and it will not do full justice to everyone. The Heathfield team is listed at end of this report and although some individuals are mentioned here, the result is a well-earned reward for the whole squad. Skipper Kenny Lewis has turned out sides throughout the year with 94 different people playing in just this one season.
In the first half Heathfield played up the considerable slope and for extended periods had to defend the bottom corner. With hindsight this was probably the crucial period in the game as Horsham had good field position but could not collect points. Heathfield’s discipline in not conceding kickable penalties was impressive.
The Horsham back division had some speedy and threatening individuals and their number 8 was always a handful but they just couldn’t achieve a clean break thanks to some committed Heathfield defence.
Nonetheless Heathfield managed a couple of visits to the home 22, giving hope for the second half. Heathfield probably failed to kick into the bottom corner enough initially after half time but eventually the penny dropped and a large proportion of the last 20 was spent in the bottom quarter of the field. Horsham made an equally committed defensive effort but Heathfield just managed to create better chances than Horsham had in the first half. One opportunity saw the ball dropped just on the line and Heathfield also secured two kickable penalties. One agonisingly came back off a post but O’Hara slotted the second for the match-winning score.
Horsham continued to look dangerous and made a couple of visits uphill into the Heathfield 22. With just one score needed the result was always in doubt until the final whistle.
This section is a personal view and will doubtless miss many fine individual performances. Nonetheless it would be wrong not to mention George Ward for a massive performance until forced off by injury, Rob Streeter at somewhere beyond 50 still being the best lineout operator and making some big hits, Mike Brown of a similar vintage with some lovely work in the loose, Head Coach Dave Cook showing that he still knows how to catch the referee’s eye, and many more.
Heathfield takes particular pleasure in having three father and son combinations on the pitch today with the Brown, Burdett and Cook families all featuring.
The trophy was collected by skipper on the day Julian Porter and the main man Kenny Lewis who had put in a seriously committed second half when the result was in the balance.
Heathfield 3rd Team
1. Julian Porter
Updated 10:34 - 5 Aug 2016 by Philip Bell
2. Tom Ralph
3. Kevin Parker
4. Rob Streeter
5. Isaac Brown
6. Johnny Welch
7. George Ward
8. Mike Brown
9. Kieran Burdett
10. Joe benions
11. Ben Jones
12. Tom Farioni
13. Toby Warren
14. Paddy O’Hara
15. Joe Hastings
16. James Thompson
17. Kenny Lewis
18. Louis Stringer
19. Willy Pugh jones
20. Dave Cook
21. Nick Cook
22. Brady Burdett