Colfs exploit dominant set piece in comfortable win
By Philip Bell
Consolation try bonus point for game Heathfield
Heathfield 24 Old Colfeians 51
Good rugby teams are a balance between the piano shifters and the piano players. At present Heathfield have plenty of the latter but are lacking the former. Old Colfeians duly exploited their physical dominance up front with a nine tries to four win although the home side at least had the consolation of a try bonus point.
For early January conditions were good with little wind and a dry, firm surface. In the first few minutes Heathfield played some good all round rugby and surged into the top corner near the clubhouse balcony before a knock on allowed the visitors to clear their lines. It was soon clear that the Colfs scrummage would be a major force in the game with both props being at least 4 stone heavier than their opposite number. They soon showed that they also had an efficient lineout with a clinical catch and drive in the bottom corner for their first try.
However Heathfield immediately replied with one of the best tries of the day as skipper Gus Taylor bravely retrieved the kick off, good hands by the backs moved the ball into the left hand corner and Oli Robertshaw made a well-timed and angled run to crash over for the try, duly converted by Sean Crozier (7-5).
Heathfield’s lead only lasted a few minutes as the Colfs pack soon collected a pushover try and this was followed a few minutes later as a centre ran onto a well-timed pass to trot in under the posts. The visitors’ bonus point try came a few minutes later from another efficient lineout catch and drive, and they added another try shortly before half time (7-29).
In spite of this unpromising score line, it has to be said that away from the set piece Heathfield looked at the very least the equal of their opponents in open play. Crozier and Toby Harrison
were running some lovely lines that were opening up the visiting defence.
Sadly Harrison had to retire at half time with an injury although this did allow Jez Burdett to join the party.
With the scrum under pressure, Heathfield’s cause was not helped by a lineout that was not as accurate as might be hoped.
With the slight slope advantage in the second half Heathfield will have hoped to build some early pressure on the visitors but the latter proved more than equal to the situation with a fine counter-attacking try from their own 22 as not the slimmest replacement prop in the game was still on hand to plunge over near the home clubhouse balcony.
The home cause was now handicapped by a justified yellow for Alex Langdon
for a deliberate knock on. Nonetheless Heathfield were still managing some decent attacks with Charlie Butler
making good ground and finding Lucas Cuming
only to be just thwarted in the bottom corner.
Approaching the last quarter Colfs collected another try as a cross kick was retrieved by their right winger who finished well from deep.
Home spirits were now lifted as some sustained pressure into the bottom corner was rewarded when Munch May
found Taylor on a well-timed run to dive over untouched. Olly Stables
was noted with some impactful carries in this period.
The visitors collected one more try when they turned over a scrum in the home 22 and a back rower was able to work his way over. However in the second half the home scrummage managed to secure rather more of their own ball although Robertshaw often had to work hard to secure it and generally did well.
Burdett now moved to fly half as the Heathfield coaches took the opportunity to give him game time in that position at this level and he certainly repaid their confidence in him with some good touches.
With ten minutes to go Colfs collected their final try but from the restart Taylor pounced on a loose pass and muscled his way over for his richly-deserved second try on the day.
Heathfield now had a sniff of a bonus point and hammered away into the visitors’ 22. In the last play of the game a cross kick was collected by Tom Tingley
and he worked his way over from a few yards out.
Tingley was afterwards picked out for his excellent all round performance in probably his best game for the team since graduating from the Colts last year. The home coaches were generally full of praise for all of the team in continuing to play under considerable physical pressure.
While Heathfield’s performance outside the scrum was generally admirable, their current situation is a warning to any teams looking at promotion from London SE3 – skill is useful but a strong and sizeable physical presence is essential.
Heathfield next visit Maidstone (12 Jan 2.00).