All round performance overcomes Seaford forward strength
By Philip Bell
Just one conversion makes the difference
Heathfield 12 Seaford 10
Heathfield Ladies just edged past a dogged Seaford side who played to their undoubted strength in the pack, although the result only came from the difference in conversions with two tries apiece.
Occasional rain and a breeze did not give either side any advantage on a decent but tacky pitch. Heathfield played down the slight slope in the first half but almost all of the game was in the home 22 as the visiting forwards gradually applied pressure.
The Seaford pack had a clear edge initially and this helped them to secure good field position. However a feature throughout the game was the aggressive and effective Heathfield defence in which skipper Becky Taylor
was quite outstanding with a huge work rate and tackle count. The game was probably decided in this period as Heathfield hardly emerged from their own 22 for most of the half. Seaford did carry the ball over the home try line on at least one occasion but somehow green hands prevented a score.
However a decisive moment came as yet another Seaford forwards attack ended with a scrum from which they were then penalised with a free kick which Karla Monson quickly tapped and went with the ball swiftly moved to Emily Sowell
still within her own 22. A couple of steps later and some decent pace saw Sowell under the posts at the other end, duly converted by Georgia Reed-Davies
(7-0). Reed-Davies was having only her second game of adult rugby and again impressed, especially with some hard work in defence.
Seaford will have been handicapped by the loss through injury to their fly-half during the first half and this will have been amplified by their scrum half having to retire after the second half restart when she took a knock to the head while going for the ball.
Seaford now managed to work their way into the home half, at least partially through unnecessary home penalties and their forward power earned its due reward with a try, albeit too wide out for the conversion attempt.
The pattern of the game continued with Heathfield always looking dangerous ball in hand and eventually this paid off as good hands between Ellie Duley
and Sowell allowed Abi Tappenden
to dive over in a heap of bodies for the decisive score (12-5).Saskia Sullivan
had to retire with a back injury which might have appeared to reduce the home physical presence but Molly Powderly
filled the gap very adequately.
Seaford continued to play to their strength and finally forced their way over in the dying minutes but the conversion proved too difficult and Heathfield were able to play out the last couple of minutes securely to collect a hard-earned victory.
Afterwards the coaches were united in praise for the whole pack in particular whose defensive work laid the foundations for the result. As well as skipper Taylor who was simply magnificent, Becky Eyres was also singled for her work in defence. Sophia Skinner
had a good days work in the backs, especially for someone who is normally regarded as a forward while Tappenden was the forward of the day with her first try, a reward for determination and persistance.
One of the keys for the win was the determination to keep the ball moving through the hands from almost any position and this is a team who will continue to collect decent results and admirers with this style of play.
The relevant league table is a thing of wonder of which Messrs Duckworth-Lewis would have been proud. Seaford apparently remain ahead of Heathfield, for reasons which escape me, in spite of Seaford now having lost twice to Heathfield’s once.
Next week Heathfield will entertain Hove Ladies II (8 Dec 14.00)
Thanks to Jason Scott-Taggart for the photographs.