Heath Colts learn while Crows win Cup
Crowborough were deserved and convincing winners of the Sussex Bob Rogers Cup by seven tries to two on a sunny albeit breezy day at Hastings.
Crowborough 42 Heathfield 12
The Hastings pitch was in very decent condition at the end of a long season and the host club should be congratulated for their arrangements on the day.
Crowborough had beaten Heathfield two weeks previously in a league game and given the previous day nuptials of Lee Vockins, a long-time first team regular, Heathfield decided to use the occasion to introduce many Colts to adult rugby. They all acquitted themselves well and will have gained valuable experience for the future.
Early play saw a free kick at a scrummage evolve into a penalty for Heathfield although Harry Reilly was unable to collect the points on a tricky day for kicking. Crowborough immediately used the wind effectively to gain position in the Heathfield twenty two and soon afterwards the Crowborough fly half was able to stroll under the posts for the opening score (7-0). This was soon followed by a Crowborough penalty (10-0).
Heathfield were then handicapped further when Jasper Wrenn was correctly binned for illegal footwork, albeit while being wrongly restrained. On his return to the fray Wrenn continued to make a very positive contribution with his committed style of play. Crowborough duly capitalised on the shortage of defending back row as their scrum half scuttled over from a five metre scrum (15-0).
In spite of being a man short Heathfield now had a decent period of play and Charlie Smith was unluckily but correctly adjudged to have been in touch before appearing to touch down in the left hand corner from a tap penalty. Nonetheless Heathfield now opened their scoring as Rob Flett collected his first senior try when tidying up after a midfield breakdown and finishing physically in the right hand corner (15-5). Flett otherwise had an impressive game with good lineout work, carrying well ball in hand and some athletic tackling back.
However Crowborough were looking increasingly confident and they now had a five minute period that decided the game as their centres and back three over-ran the Heathfield defence with pace and good support play, scoring three tries, with one conversion (32-5). This will have been a tough experience for the Heathfield Colts involved but Henry Joliffe and Gareth Lloyd in particular both deserve mention for their committed contributions in this area. This Crowborough back division have caused problems for the opposition in league games all season and this Heathfield back division had never played or even trained together before today.
The scrummage was unstable all day with neither side establishing control while the stiff breeze made for difficult lineouts.
Heathfield probably hoped to benefit from the breeze in the second half but this rarely happened. Indeed Crowborough collected two more tries in the first ten minutes to complete their scoring although they were aided by beneficial Heathfield kicks out of defence and some end-of-season tackling. When Heathfield did make long touch kicks, Crowborough often took quick throw-ins to keep playing a pacy game.
Nonetheless in the last half hour Heathfield had more position and possession as both sides employed multiple substitutions. The only score fell to Heathfield as Joliffe energetically worked his way over in the left hand corner – and went close on another occasion (42-12).
Heathfield’s best player on the day was probably David Bayly with a high standard of athleticism and commitment. He emerged from the Heathfield Colts last year and has steadily developed this season to become a regular first team squad member.
While Crowborough take home the trophy for another year, Heathfield will take comfort from many of the performances on the day.