Heathfield edge past dogged Bromley
Mistakes take edge off otherwise good performance
Heathfield 12 Bromley 6
Heathfield eventually secured an important win over Bromley in the usual close contest between these two clubs. Although in excellent conditions the game never really flowed and there were too many mistakes for either coach to be happy. Heathfield have now won their two home games against the other teams in the lower regions of the league table but now need to be looking to collect points from higher placed teams.
However one of the highlights of the day was the cheerful appearance of Joe Sandford in the clubhouse before the game. His continuing recovery from life-threatening injuries is a matter of great pleasure to all especially his family.
Bromley’s George Skinner opened the scoring with an early penalty (0-3) but Heathfield’s Harry Reilly missed the almost immediate opportunity to level the scores. The home side however were starting to exert some pressure and most of the play was in the visitors’ half. Bromley soon lost their number 8 to injury in the first of series of injuries that disrupted their already makeshift lineup.
Heathfield opened their scoring with a well-executed lineout catch and drive as Ollie Stables did a good job at the back of the drive watching for the right moment and point to dive for the line (5-3).
Heathfield now played some lovely rugby with good hands by forwards and backs and a straightforward win looked likely. However Bromley never lost their defensive shape and Heathfield contrived to make mistakes when chances beckoned.
Lewis Headland took an early knock to a shoulder and now another heavy contact exacerbated the injury and he had to be replaced. Thankfully Munch May was on the bench and came on to give a typically wholehearted performance with some especially fine tackling throughout the game.
A good home attack from a lineout drive into the left hand corner was turned over and then another penalty chance drifted wide. Bromley made just their second visit to the home 22 with about five minutes left in the half and were duly rewarded with a penalty to retake the lead (5-6).
Heathfield’s frustration at this situation was reflected in another dominating scrummage pushing the visiting 8 back some 15 yards with the ball then going wide only for the home defence to just prove adequate. And the half ended with another home penalty attempt going wide meaning that 11 points had been missed from the tee. Having had much the better of play overall the score line was worrying.
The home scrummage was indeed generally in control although the visitors’ replacement 8 did well to secure difficult ball most of the time. The Heathfield lineout was better than on some recent occasions although critically this was not sustained in the final minutes of the game.
In the second half Tom Watkins soon replaced Fraser Goatcher. Heathfield were having some good possession and a useful run by Ollie Brown on the right wing was only just contained. Then sustained pressure in the right hand corner near the home clubhouse balcony saw the ball dropped over the line. Frustration was further compounded when an attacking 5 metre scrummage in that corner was wasted by early engagement. This was an example of several failures of precise execution in good positions on the day.
The final and decisive score came with just over twenty minutes to go as Heathfield pressure into the left hand corner was finally exploited by a forward drive with Gus Taylor collecting the try, Reilly converting (12-6).
Bromley were in no way beaten and now had a good spell of pressure into the bottom right hand corner but the home defence just held. With just one score the difference, one mistake could have decided the game either way.
The last few minutes saw mostly Heathfield pressure stoutly defended by the visitors who also stole at least two dangerous Heathfield lineouts near their line.
Overall this was a fair result with Heathfield deserving the win but Bromley justifiably secured a losing bonus point. Heathfield head coach Dave Cook was afterwards particularly pleased with his side’s defensive organisation which had been the subject of work in training recently. He singled out Haidar Maliki, Stables and Taylor for their contributions on the day.
Heathfield will need to improve their accuracy in execution when they visit Charlton Park next week (29 Oct 3.00).