Size and power overcome game Heathfield
Six tries to two a fair reflection
Old Colfeians 48 Heathfield 20
Heathfield were well beaten by promotion-challenging Old Colfeians who at times looked an impressively big and authoritative side. The visitors are able to take a number of positives out of the day but the final score reflects the realities of a large club near the top of the table beating a game team with limited resources trying to avoid relegation.
The home side started strongly and an early penalty (3-0) was soon followed by more pressure into the bottom right hand corner as they used their favoured tactic of big men smashing up the middle with good offloads out of the tackle creating opportunities. An attacking scrum in the right hand corner was well exploited as a flanker claimed the first try, duly converted by the home kicker who had a perfect record on the day (10-0). Another penalty at the end of the first quarter confirmed the situation (13-0).
However gradually Heathfield started to get their hands on the ball and worked their way up the slight slope. Neither side took control of the breakdown in spite of the larger home forwards with David Bayly and Haidar Maliki being particularly noticed in this area. Nonetheless after half an hour the big home forwards charged down the slope and eventually in broken play their right winger was on hand to step his way skilfully out of tackles and claim a fine try (20-0).
At least Heathfield soon registered on the scoreboard with a Harry Reilly penalty (20-3). He had another chance from long range just on half time but it missed narrowly.
The scrummage was a good contest all day. The larger home pack initially appeared to have a slight edge but without threatening Heathfield possession and on at least two occasions the home pack was driven back to concede scrummage penalties. However the lineout was a different matter as the home side, in spite of losing a major lineout operator through injury last week, had a dominating day. On several occasions good Heathfield attacking lineouts were turned over. A functioning lineout would not have altered the result but would have given a sniff of a Heathfield bonus point.
The Heathfield back division had to deal with a late alteration and a new half back combination. Sean Crozier made just his second start at this level and his first at fly half. He got his back line moving well and dealt bravely with the very heavy traffic in his channel. Lewis Headland started his first game at scrum half for a while with a good all-round performance including one eye-catching break down the touchline.
Ed Koops had to retire at half time with a neck injury and this was the first of a number of similar retirements as the physical impact of the home forwards took its toll. Henry Ross covered many yards to make many important tackles throughout the game. In the backs Reilly put in some heavy work in defence while Toby Wallace and Lucas Cuming made useful runs.
The second half was incident-packed but essentially more of the same. An early Heathfield penalty raised hopes of a resurgence (20-6). Indeed another home attack might have gone seriously wrong if a Fraser Goatcher interception had worked – even from 50 yards out. Instead Colfs worked through the phases and a winger finished under the posts (27-6).
Heathfield now had one of their better periods working their way back down the pitch with Bayly and Ollie Stables making particular contributions. Bayly had an outstanding game and Stables is making an increasingly influential contribution with impactful runs and generally good energy levels. Might be something to do with his fitness? This was the period in the game when good Heathfield attacking opportunities were often foiled through lineout frailties. Nonetheless the penalty count during the game reflects the pressure that Heathfield applied to the home team in spite of the physical differential between the teams. In the first half the count was 11-6 against Colfs and in the second half it was, remarkably, 12-1 against them.
Unsurprisingly this eventually resulted in two yellow cards for the home team, albeit too late for Heathfield to obtain any benefit on the scoreboard. Last week Heathfield’s opponents received three yellow cards. Heathfield have had three yellows against them all season – make your own deductions from that.
Colfs collected their bonus point try at the end of the third quarter after another lineout turnover (34-6). But a few minutes later Ethan Walker raised the visitors’ morale with a characteristically strong run from 30 metres out to claim a fine try (34-13). But physical realities were taking their toll as Oli Robertshaw and Maliki now had to retire hurt. Unsurprisingly the home scrummage took advantage and soon afterwards they exploited a dominant scrummage for a simple try (41-13).
The result was clear but in the last few minutes Heathfield showed plenty of team spirit with a concerted attack into the bottom left hand corner. After repeated attacks from short range Stables was just held up but Goatcher finally wrestled his way over (41-20). And then the home side justifiably completed the scoring from another strong scrummage (48-20).
After a week’s rest Heathfield next entertain Beckenham (28 Jan 2.00).
Heathfield 2s had a convincing 50-5 win over Sussex Police while the 3rd team just lost to Cinque Ports.