Seven tries and a clean defensive sheet
Heathfield pack provide platform for dominating performance
Cranbrook 0 Heathfield 45
Photo album by Harriet Mason Pearson
Heathfield secured a resounding seven tries to nil away win over their near neighbours Cranbrook who could not secure enough possession to challenge the authoritative visitors.
All three Heathfield senior teams won on the day so the clubhouse was a happy place later. Regrettably the forecast weather will prevent any mini and junior activity on Sunday but the contributions by several Colts today are a reminder to the Club of the importance of the younger sections upon which the future of the Club depends.
In recent years Cranbrook have invested in their playing facilities rather than in their characterful and excellent clubhouse. They have a magnificent pitch which enables good teams to play decent rugby. Heathfield much enjoyed the day, not just because of the result on the pitch, but in appreciation of a similar club dealing so well with the challenges for clubs at this level and which Heathfield has always held in high regard. The excellent turnout of VPs, volunteers and supporters for the home side speaks volumes for a thriving, locally based, club, much like Heathfield.
However on the pitch Heathfield showed scant regard for local sensitivities with a dominating and clinical performance. In the first half Cranbrook hardly left their own half as the Heathfield pack controlled possession for most of the time. Early good ball was moved left for George Gomersall to make the first of his many contributions on the left wing with the defence just proving adequate. When the Heathfield attack came back to the right hand corner, one of the home back row was probably lucky that the referee did not see his tip tackle off the ball on David Bayly. Soon afterwards quick possession in the right hand corner was swiftly moved wide for Bryn Jones to set Ethan Walker up on a devastating run to touch down under the posts, converted by Sam Goatcher (0-7).
Goatcher converted five of the seven tries with at least one being from near the touch line.
Then with less than 15 on the clock, a secure scrummage allowed Oli Robertshaw to make good yards before finding Munch May whose ‘out of the back door’ pass gave Ben Boorman a relatively simple finish (0-14).
Soon afterwards Gomersall ran back a kick out of defence by Cranbrook and he eventually found his way across to the other wing to link up with his fellow Colt Boorman, although the attack was eventually snuffed out.. Many hours and indeed years have gone into Heathfield’s junior section and it was delight to many ageing individuals present today to see such talented young players making their mark at the senior level.
The Heathfield scrummage had an excellent day with their own ball always secure and often driving back the opposition on their own put-in. On the half hour from one such scrummage, Boorman appeared in the centre and was only just denied in the left hand corner. However a scrummage soon allowed Oli Robertshaw to collect the first of his two pushover tries on the day (0-21).
In the last minutes of the half Heathfield secured the all-important try bonus point as Ed Koops muscled his way over in the right hand corner. (0-26) Koops had an excellent game as he made many hard yards in heavy traffic.
Not for the first time this year Heathfield slightly went off the boil at the start of the second half, with the bonus point win secured. Cranbrook now had the benefit of the breeze and were competing well. However their skipper was probably trying too hard and was soon rewarded with a yellow card. Heathfield failed to take advantage of the extra man and indeed the home scrummage appeared to many to improve when their left wing joined the back row to fill the gap left by the carded captain. Perhaps he preferred that to trying to contain the speedy youngster he was otherwise competing with.
Heathfield were also disrupted as Kasper Solli and Richard Cooley were replaced by Haidar Maliki and Tom Pritchard for niggly injury issues.
While Cranbrook managed occasional visits to the visitors’ half, they rarely threatened the whitewash. By contrast Heathfield continued to look threatening in attack and on the half hour a penalty that had looked likely to be kicked into the corner was instead tapped and moved wide to the left wing where David Bayly somehow worked his way over in the corner in spite of plentiful defensive attention (0-31).
Maliki had been making the most of his opportunity off the bench and his tackling had certainly made an impression on the home back division. The resulting pressure almost certainly led to the ball now going loose in mid-field and Boorman was on hand to jog over for his second try (0-38).
Then Robertshaw again benefitted as the scrummage completed their good day at the office (0-45).
To their considerable credit Cranbrook surged back in the closing moments of the game and it took an outstanding tackle by, who else, Bayly to deny them any consolation.
This result keeps Heathfield at the top of the league but Bromley and Aylesford are keeping pace, ready to pounce on any weakening. What an excellent and competitive league – shame we can’t stay here for ever!
Next Saturday Heathfield venture into uncharted waters as they take on United Services Portsmouth in the Senior Vase (6 Feb 1.30). The team will be travelling by coach and supporters will be welcome – details on the website shortly.