Heathfield U16s fight back to win tight game against Jersey
By Matt kuzemko
Heathfield & Waldron RFC U16, 22 v Jersey Reds RFC U16, 19 – 10th February 2019
Heathfield & Waldron RFC U16 v Jersey Reds RFC U16 – 10th February 2019
It had hammered down with rain in the previous few days, but the pitch at Cypress Field at Heathfield was in very good condition as Heathfield kicked off into the breeze in this important Sussex league fixture. The home side started brightly with a series of dominant scrums and drives towards the clubhouse end in the first ten minutes. Chances came and went: one rumble from the pack almost breached the defensive wall and, shortly afterwards, a clear overlap was foozled when one of the forwards, loitering amongst the backs, knocked on with the line at Heathfield’s mercy.
The islanders, having absorbed this early pressure with brave tackling, then began to counter-attack. The ball was moved wide to the left and Heathfield found themselves out-flanked by a well-worked try. Two more Jersey tries followed with two of these three converted confidently to open up an impressive 19-0 lead. Heathfield, however, have acquired the habit of sticking in games this season when under real pressure and, once again, they showed heart when, in the past, they might have imploded. With Jack Flint getting through a lot of vital close quarters work in the loose, and Dan Newman and George Hayter leading with bursts downfield, the tide began to turn. At the back, Hamish Mcalister showed his usual bravery in dealing with the tests full-backs tend to face in tricky conditions. Two tries before half-time were the result: skipper Jack Langridge plunged over from close range and then Tom Reilly side-stepped through to score close to the posts, following the latter score up with a conversion of his own. 12-19 to Jersey was the half-time score.
With the wind now at their back, Heathfield’s half-backs Reilly and Ben Wyatt now began to pin the visitors back in the second-half. Ellis Wilson and Freddie McKeough dominated most of the line-outs, and a strong run in the opposition 22 by George Hayter, preferring to keep going himself rather than utilise the support outside, took him to, and then over, the line. There then followed a period of slightly panicked rugby as both sides sought to seal a win, with just two points the difference. Jersey’s half-backs led some clever breaks, and their forwards willingly rucked and fought for possession; outside them their three-quarters offered a genuine threat if they could get enough ball. Reilly, at outside-half, became more influential but it was another series of pressing forward drives that eventually led to Langridge again wrestling his way over with about six minutes left.
The last few minutes were now bound to prove a nervy period for those playing and spectating. Jersey attempted a penalty shot at goal which dropped short in the wind and finally, with a scrum on the Heathfield 22, they kicked the ball into touch, having been led to believe they were ahead. It was not to be, though, with the home side in fact the victors by 3 points – it was an unfortunate end to a splendidly-contested and tight match.
Team: 1. Jack Langridge (c); 2. George Hayter; 3. Oli Tooke; 4. Joe Lewis; 5. Ellis Wilson; 6. Oli Hunt; 7. Jack Flint; 8. Dan Newman; 9. Ben Wyatt; 10. Tom Reilly; 11. Jon Beaton; 12. Stan Campbell; 13. Finn Scott-Taggart; 14. Cameron Reader; 15. Hamish McAllister
Replacements: 16. Sam Walley for Oli Hunt; 50. 17. Angus Patterson (55) for Hamish McAllister; 18. Bradley Scott (35) for Oli Tooke; 19. Freddie McKeough for Joe Lewis (35); 20. Jack Dunnell for Bradley Scott (55)
Scores: 12: Jersey - try + conversion (0-7); 15: Jersey - try + conversion (0-14), 18?: Jersey – try (0-19); 25: Try – Heathfield – Langridge (5-19); 34: Try + conversion – both Reilly (12-19); Try – Hayter (45) (17-19); Try – Langridge (64) (22-19).