Tough day in North Kent for young team
Six Olivers can't stop efficient Medway
Medway 58 Heathfield 3
Medway secured an emphatic nine tries to nil home win over newly promoted Heathfield and while they never overran the visitors the score line is a slightly harsh but essentially fair reflection of the game.
At the end of last season Medway finished 24 league places above Heathfield so the result and score are not surprising, although naturally disappointing. That Medway are playing in this league is the result of disciplinary issues but it would appear that, on this limited evidence, they will soon return to higher levels.
Using the inevitable jargon, Heathfield will take positives out of the day but it will nonetheless have been a considerable shock to the team. The visitors were not at full strength due to injury and availability issues but these sort of problems are part of life and won’t automatically evaporate.
Heathfield won the toss and chose to play into the stiff breeze. The home side made good use of the conditions in the first half while the visitors were probably guilty of some over ambitious passes early on. Medway opened the scoring with a penalty and then achieved a significant moral and actual victory by shunting the Heathfield pack backwards to secure a penalty try (10-0). This has not happened to the Heathfield scrummage for some years in league rugby.
Tries came steadily throughout the half as the home team efficiency took its toll. Medway are not a flashy side but they are a more mature side than Heathfield and have size, fitness and good teamwork which gradually finds holes. Their bonus point try came on the half hour as a lineout was driven on and eventually a flanker dived over near the posts (27-0).
Heathfield now did manage to work their way upfield and briefly threatened the home try line and then more pressure resulted in the only visiting points from a Lucas Cuming penalty (32-3) to give a flicker of hope at half time.
The second half was more of the same although Heathfield did spend more time in the home half thanks to the wind and, to be fair, perhaps the home team relaxed a little with the game won. All three visitors’ replacements were used in a series of changes as the physical pressure took its toll.
Medway collected two tries in the last five minutes to emphasise the difference between the teams.
Once the home side loose head retired just before half time the scrummage was even and the neither side dominated the lineout on a very difficult day for throwing in. It could be argued that Heathfield tried to throw too long in the conditions but ambition should not be faulted.
Given the score it would be wrong to give too much credit to individual Heathfield players. Nonetheless there was a general consensus that Dylan Eames had a big game in all phases. Others who were especially noted include Munch May and Ollie Stables for some committed tackling, debutant Oliver Osler-Holt who had a tough day in midfield under serious pressure, and Cuming and Henry Ross also getting positive mentions. It is worth noting that eight of today's squad are 21 or less, products of the club’s youth system. All of the team are local people. This is a team that is going to improve. Incidentally six of them are called Oliver!
This Saturday (17 Sep 3.00) Heathfield entertain Crowborough after a gap of two years and this local contest will definitely be more closely contested than today’s game.