Park House snatch draw
Disappointing performance - but at least Heathfield has good pitches in spite of the weather
Heathfield 7 Park House 7
Heathfield produced their most disappointing performance of the season as they drew with spirited but limited Park House. Heathfield had enough opportunities to win this game but poor option taking meant that they played to the visitors’ strengths and paid the penalty.
On a day when the recent downpours meant that several local clubs were unable to play, Heathfield took considerable pleasure in having two excellent pitches available. The club will continue to invest in the necessary facilities for rugby while revelling in the small but cosy clubhouse.
The visitors drove the first scrum up and were duly penalised. However hooker Eric Tamsen damaged his neck in this incident and had to leave the field. He was replaced by Tom (Shrek) Watkins who had a worthy but tough reintroduction to this level. The Park House front row was a major factor in the final result. While Heathfield scrum just about held their own in the first half, in the second half the visitors were able to turn over many scrums and thus relieve pressure.
Park House had the better of the first quarter which was mainly in the home half as they played to their strengths and Heathfield were not able to secure enough clean possession to play their preferred game. On a couple of occasions when the ball was being moved Ethan Walker made useful yards but this tended to be back towards the visitors pack and thus allowed them to play their game.
At the end of the first quarter the Park House number 8 was binned for bad language. He was their key player on the day and his speed to, and effectiveness at, the breakdown was a major factor in his team’s performance.
By contrast Heathfield looked sluggish in this key phase as the visitors rucking often turned over ball. One bright aspect was David Bayly’s all round performance as he frequently caught the eye in lineout, attack and defence.
Successive penalties eventually gave Heathfield field position in the left hand corner. Good lineout ball was moved wide but Ollie Brown was adjudged just to have been held up in the right hand corner. Coming back to the left hand corner for a penalty, Heathfield had a series of 5 metre scrums. From one Bayly appeared to many to have scored but was considered to have been just short and then on two successive scrums Oli Robertshaw picked up and drove for the line but the visiting number 8 on both occasions saved his team by holding up his opposite number.
Park House finished the half strongly but crucially a penalty for them just drifted wide. The 0-0 half time score probably overstated the quality and entertainment of the half.
Park House have a well drilled lineout catch and drive which often gained many yards. In many ways they are a classic English side based on effective set piece combined with a good kicking fly half.
Heathfield started the second half positively but the game was still characterised by scrappy forward play and unsatisfactory scrummages. At one point the referee felt it necessary to lecture both captains at length reflecting the general dissatisfaction with the game and, probably, too much backchat.
Gradually however, Heathfield started to put some shape on their game and an extended period of pressure in the right hand corner was finally capped by Bayly diving over, duly converted by Lucas Cuming (7-0).
At this stage most of the play was in the visitors’ half and it was only their scrummage that kept the home side at bay. Brown made an increasingly effective contribution, running back several kicks out of defence. Then the ball finally reached Ben Boorman on the left wing and he duly beat several opponents and looked to be on course for the decisive score only for a desperate last chance tap tackle to deny him in probably the pivotal moment on the day.
Munch May had a hard working day at the office as he had to cope with the visiting number 8 but emerged with credit, not least for some big tackles.
However Park House finished the stronger and penalties gave them field position. In the dying moments they were awarded a five metre scrummage and their number 8 capped his fine all round performance with a pushover try. The conversion by their fly half (no pressure then!) secured the result.
Results elsewhere mean that the table remains very tight between the top three. However as today’s result shows, there are plenty of other teams outside the top three who are highly competitive and there are no easy fixtures.
Heathfield have a healthy respect for Park House – and wish them well for the rest of the season, especially against Bromley and Aylesford whom they soon entertain.
Next Saturday Heathfield visit North Kent to play Gillingham against whom they had a convincing win earlier in the season but who have been building some good results recently.