Away win in misty local derby
Am I in earth, in heaven, or in hell? .... And in this mist at all adventures go.
Crowborough 0 Heathfield 17
Am I in earth, in heaven, or in hell?
Sleeping or waking, mad or well-advised?
Known unto these, and to myself disguised?
I'll say as they say, and persever so,
And in this mist at all adventures go.
Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors
Heathfield collected their first away win of the season by two tries to nil. However that is one of the few facts that can be stated with certainty on a day when mist very nearly caused the match to be abandoned on several occasions. The referee was probably the person who saw more of the action that anyone else and he takes great credit for allowing the game to be completed when many expected it to be stopped. This report is even lighter on detail than usual since for much of the game visibility was less than forty yards and any action on the other side of the pitch was completely invisible.
It would have been quite possible for extra players to join in and nobody would have noticed. Elvis Presley could have stood at outside centre for much of the time without attracting comment. Come to think of it…..
The Crowborough pitch was in the best condition seen for years at this stage of the season and with the home side determined to extract something from this local derby in an otherwise difficult year a close contest was anticipated. However Heathfield scored from the first play of the game and the home side rarely looked like getting much from the day. Heathfield kicked off and Henry Ross was immediately effective in recovering the ball which was then worked through several phases before a breakdown in the right hand corner ended with Oli Robertshaw plunging over, converted by Harry Reilly (0-7).
The Heathfield scrummage had a definite edge although they never overran the home pack.
Heathfield extended their lead with a similar try after about 25 minutes when a sequence of phases, again into the right hand corner, ended with David Bayly working his way over (0-14). Crowborough were a long way from beaten and managed a period of pressure back into the visitors’ half that was eventually ended by a turnover at the breakdown that might have been by Fraser Goatcher.
The half ended with some handbags and a yellow card for the home inside centre.
An injury to Sam Goatcher allowed Lucas Cuming to join the fray early in the second half. Leading up to half time the mist had been thickening and many expected the game to be abandoned. However early in the second half the weather gods relented and it was actually possible from one touchline to see the other side of the pitch.
Heathfield were unable to benefit from the extra man although they generally had more possession and position at this stage. After Crowborough were restored to full strength a Reilly penalty completed the scoring on the day (0-17).
A gradual return of the mist means that it is impossible to state anything with certainty about the rest of the game. Heathfield probably had the better of the remaining period but without ever looking likely to score as errors increasingly disrupted promising situations. Indeed Heathfield Head Coach Dave Cook was distinctly unhappy with some of the forwards’ handling during the game but obscenity laws prevent any direct quotations.
In the backs Ollie Brown, Ethan Walker, Toby Warren and Chester Duff (a welcome reappearance) all made useful runs but effective defence and errors meant that the opportunities were never exploited. In the pack Bayly, Ross and Stables were mentioned in dispatches.
The Heathfield pack had a generally good day with a clear edge in the scrummage and generally secure lineout. However if anyone deserved man of the match it was probably the referee on a day when many less resolute individuals would have given up.
Heathfield end the year in 8th place in the league but are well aware that there are three other clubs within 4 points so 2017 promises to be hard-fought. The 1st team returned to the clubhouse for the annual Xmas party and meet up with the happy 2nd team who had collected over 60 points in their home win over Rye – Toby Wallace’s 4 tries illustrating the competition for 1st team places.
After the festivities Heathfield return to league action on 7th January when they entertain Old Alleynians for their first visit to Cross-In-Hand at this level.