Bonus point keeps Heath on top
Dunstonians threaten upset but improved Heathfield performance secures the win
Heathfield 31 Old Dunstonians 10
Heathfield eventually secured a five try bonus point victory over an Old Dunstonian side who at times threatened to upset the home team’s position as league leaders.
Thankfully some mist which could have ruined the day cleared in time for the kickoff and Heathfield had the better of the early exchanges. Dunstonians were quickly penalised for offside several times which enabled Heathfield to achieve good field position. Although an early penalty chance drifted wide good hands quickly moved the ball from right to left to give Ben Boorman a simple run in, finely converted by Harry Reilly (7-0). Reilly had a decent day with the boot but there were also plenty of positive comments about the benefits of having a creative player in the 12 shirt.
Heathfield were disrupted on the morning of the game with Munch May having to withdraw due to illness. Tom Faraone thus made his first start at this level and generally had a decent day as he kept the home backs moving.
Ollie Brown on the right wing was clearly not going to allow his young colleague on the other wing to take all the limelight and he had any number of useful runs throughout the game. Both of them were noted with plenty of work in defence and at the breakdown.
After twelve minutes David Bayly was rightly binned for a tip tackle but he then went on have yet another outstanding game in attack and defence. He has a fine engine which is combined with strong determination and technical accuracy. Dunstonians duly took advantage of the extra man as they reached the home 22 for the first time, good lineout possession took them into the shadow of the posts and then good hands gave them a huge overlap in the bottom corner (7-5).
Heathfield now started to play some of their best rugby on the day. A typically strong run by Ethan Walker secured good position and then running back a kick, Bryn Jones, Reilly and Sam Goatcher combined for Goatcher to finish well (14-5).
Jones had a fine all round game with some excellent tackling but he also controlled the game and his cultured kicking out of hand frequently gained many yards.
Another run back by Goatcher was just denied in the left hand corner and Heathfield probably should have collected another try from good possession from a 5 metre lineout but lack of precision in the centre ended with a penalty for crossing.
The Dunstonian lineout were penalised twice for not 5 but thereafter had a decent day. By contrast the home lineout was misfiring and only occasionally produced good possession.
Heathfield now manufactured some decent ball towards the left wing and Boorman was just denied by some brave defence and the bounce of the ball. However Heathfield finished the half strongly as a lineout catch and drive was driven for about 20 metres with Oli Robertshaw the eventual beneficiary (19-5).
In spite of the score line Dunstonians had the better of the third quarter and consistent pressure led to a penalty which was quickly tapped for an efficient finish in the left hand corner (19-10).
At this stage Heathfield were wobbling slightly with their recent moderate performances and results suggesting that they might have been vulnerable. However that was the end of the good news for the visitors as the home side gradually reasserted itself.
Boorman again threatened as he ran back a kick out of defence, gaining good position. Heathfield then turned over a visitors’ scrum and the pack dived in to drive over for Robertshaw to collect his second try on the day, and the critical try bonus point (26-10).
The referee had a generally decent day and is to be especially congratulated for even penalising not straight at the scrummage, a rare occurrence nowadays.
Kasper Solli was now replaced by Dylan Eames, illustrating the keen competition for places in the Heathfield second row at present, with another interested figure Henry Ross having a hard-working day on the flank. Solli followed his debut appearance last week with another solid contribution today.
In the dying moments of the game Jones capped his fine performance with a delightful chip into the corner and Boorman expertly finished with his second try on the day (31-10).
On this showing Old Dunstonians are value for much more than their current lowly league position. Sussex sides often struggle visiting south London and many London sides do not enjoy their trips to the country so this was a very decent performance.
Heathfield have not been functioning at their best since the holiday period, caused at least partly by issues over training. Today followed the first proper training session in recent weeks and showed distinct improvement from the last two games. Head Coach David Cook particularly praised the better cohesion in the forwards and option taking.
Next Saturday Heathfield visit old friends/foes Cranbrook (30 Jan 2.00pm).
Since this continues to be a closely competitive league, it may be useful to be aware of the RFU regulations governing the final league positions which are shown below. In summary positions are determined by league points, then number of wins and then points difference.
13.2.5 Club Positions
(a) Unless otherwise agreed by the Committee, the position of a Club/team shall be established by awarding four League points for a win and two League points for a draw. An additional League point will be awarded to a team:
(i) on each occasion it scores four or more tries in a League Match;
(ii) on each occasion it loses a League Match by seven points or less.
(b) If two or more Clubs have the same number of League points at the end of the Season, final league positions shall be determined firstly by the number of wins achieved and then on the basis of match points scored.
(i) A Club with a larger number of wins in the League shall be placed higher than a Club with the same number of League points but fewer wins.
(ii) If Clubs have equal League points and an equal number of wins in the League then a Club with a larger difference between match points ‘for’ and match points ‘against’ shall be placed higher in the League than a Club with a smaller difference between match points ‘for’ and match points ‘against’.
(iii) Should two Clubs have the same number of League points and an equal number of wins and the same match points difference, a Club having scored more match points ‘for’ shall be placed higher in the League than a Club having the lesser number of match points ‘for’.
(iv) If this still does not establish the positions then the Clubs involved shall be ranked according to the number of matches won, excluding the first League match of the season. If necessary this process shall be extended to exclude the second match, third match and so on until the final positions are established.