Great final league win in cold conditions.
Edenbridge 12 - Heathfield 36
For the first game of the year it was a little odd to be playing our final league match. Heathfield has managed to play all of our games on time. Flying to Jersey helped because all other fixtures that week-end were cancelled thanks to a very wet week-end in England. With Crowborough unfortunately dropping out of the league and Hastings withdrawing before the start of the season there are only five league matches. We were in the same position last year against Edenbridge where if we secured a try bonus win we would once again guarantee at least third spot in the league.
Edenbridge kicked off and with no Heathfield player wanting the ball Tom T picked up the loose ball ran it up field for 20 meters and a closely supporting Anthony went to ground. From the resulting scrum the ball was spun down the backs to Aaron on the right wing, he cut inside and popped the ball out to Harrison W. Progress continued up field off loading to Jake but Edenbridge spoilt play and prevented quick ball. The forwards managed to recycle the ball for Jake to kick through only to be caught by a cool headed full back who called the mark, he proved to be one of Edenbridge’s best players.
Both teams struggled to settle and with a number of unforced handling errors blighting both sides progress was limited. With a scrum on the Heathfield 22 line the forwards held firm and provided a solid ball for the backs, Harrison W broke the line, the ball was rucked back and found Tom T on the blindside and he ran thirty meters for the first try under the posts, which was converted by Tom C (0-7).
Heathfield started to dominate in key areas, particularly the hard work put in by the forwards. Coach David seemed extremely pleased that the well-practiced line out moves actually came off as planned! Anthony was then able to make a break which he continued to do on a number of occasions during the game; with the speed of the break support was slow in coming. However, Edenbridge was slow to capitalise on the late arrival of the forwards allowing Heathfield to keep the ball in hand. Slowly moving forward Edenbridge gave away a penalty, which was quickly taken by Harrison and a strong finish put him over to take the score to 0-12.
Edenbridge started to look like a side that wanted to play some rugby and won a few phases. With the pressure increasing Heathfield gave away a couple of unnecessary penalties. The large Edenbridge prop bulldozed over the line but with three Heathfield players harassing him the ball was dropped over the line. However the resultant pressure from the five yard scrum proved too much and Edenbridge were over for their first try of the game. (5-12).
Edenbridge seemed buoyed by the score but fortunately Mackenzie spoilt an Edenbridge line out, won the ball and went on one of his many short burst through the forwards. Once again Sam came out wide but handling in the near freezing conditions hampered progress. At half time the score was only 5-12, the game could still go either way.
A poor restart for the second half and Heathfield found themselves defending a scrum in the middle of the field. Fortunately the pack made up for this and won the ball, a few short drives forward and the ball was recovered by Harry. It then went through several hands and Harry finished off the move he had started with a try which was converted by Tom C (5-19).
Edenbridge returned the favour of a scuffed restart to leave us in a strong position; Sam took the ball from the back of the scrum and set up the next play. This passage of play deserved a try, Sam popped the ball to Anthony, out to Harry and Harrison who had switched in the middle creating a space for Tom C to very nearly score, unfortunately Edenbridge came up with some great tackles to stop this drive to the line. The next try came from another well executed line out, with Sam being the beneficiary and taking the score to 2-24. The next few minutes both sides had possession without making much ground, Edenbridge eventually kicked over the top, Jay made a great pick up and put in a well-judged kick into the opposition 22 but was hit late and Heathfield gained the penalty.
Edenbridge’s good running backs suffered from the same handling difficulties that Heathfield had been guilty of earlier in the game. Their centre eventually found a gap, despite the fact that Edward had let him through he was alert enough to chase back and make a good tackle. After both sides scrappy play Heathfield found themselves chasing through a fumbled ball and with several football related moves Harrison C picked the ball up to go over the line taking three Edenbridge players with him. The celebration on the touchline was cut short, alas the ref blew quickly, disallowed the try and deemed the ball held up. This gave us all something to discuss in the clubhouse afterwards. Shortly afterwards Sam once again picked up the ball from a scrum and scored out wide. Jay stepped up for the conversion attempt and was unlucky and hit the post. (5-29)
Even in the final few minutes of the game there was some good work, Harry made a fantastic tap tackle on the fast moving Edenbridge full back who was all but through for a try. The last try Heathfield was a classic backline move, (the coaches keep telling them that these work!). It started with a Sam pick-up from No 8, passed to Jake, through the centres to find Edward on the wing to score the try; the conversion took the score to 5-36. At this point Heathfield seemed to think that the final whistle was about to blow, and Edenbridge caught Heathfield congratulating themselves a little prematurely, and some poor tackles let Edenbridge through to finish the game 12-36.
Last year’s report for the same fixture played in March I talked about “both sides starting to feel the heat”, well even in the freezing conditions this time it was a good game by both sides and with both sides at times struggling to keep the ball in hand the game could have been closer. A good win against a very competitive side – well done boys!