Deal and the conditions defeat Heathfield
By Philip Bell
Home side have the better wet weather tactics
Deal & Betteshanger 26 Heathfield 0
Deal played the right game in miserable conditions to beat Heathfield by four tries to nil. A strong breeze slanting across the pitch carried rain for most of the game, making handling difficult and putting a premium on accurate kicking. While the pitch was mostly firm it became increasingly slimy as the game went on making things even harder for the players.
Before the game a minute’s silence was observed by all in a tribute to John Carley, a stalwart of Deal, and Heathfield Chairman David Rhodes, both of whom died recently.
For the first ten minutes Heathfield dominated possession and a score looked very likely but the home defence just coped and eventually mistakes crept in to break the momentum.
The home side started to come more into the game as their scrum established an edge. Heathfield had Tom Cornwall
at hooker reflecting the issues facing the team at present as he has minimal experience in the position and lacks the bulk of many front row practitioners: he put in a committed and gutsy effort before having to withdraw later in the second half.
As a result of this pressure Deal had two long range penalties but both missed. However on the half hour they opened the scoring through a well-organised forward drive (7-0). Heathfield charged back to the other end but a promising attacking lineout in the corner by the home clubhouse went wrong and Deal were able to clear their lines. Throwing in was very difficult in the conditions and there were multiple failures in this phase by both sides. However Henry Ross
marked his return from injury with several steals at the front of the lineout as well as a typically athletic performance in the loose.
Deal extended their lead just before half time as they turned over a Heathfield defensive 5m scrum and powered over (12-0).
As conditions deteriorated it was always going to be difficult to overturn this lead. Heathfield currently do not have the resources to play the tight stuff-it-up-the-jumper style of game that were successful for Deal on this occasion. Heathfield continued to try to play a more open game but inevitably errors kept on occurring and good home pressure did the rest. Their third try came from close range ten minutes into the half and the last just before the end.
Heathfield skipper Gus Taylor was prominent with a number of decent runs but the breakthrough never came. Tom Glenn
had a fine game under pressure often running effectively from deep and also kicking well out of hand.
continued his rugby education as he collected a yellow for a high tackle late on. The mature Kevin Parker
was justifiably pleased with his first appearance at this level when he replaced Cornwall.
Next week Heathfield entertain Aylesford (8 Dec 2.00).