Wood and Brown trebles as Heathfield had a comfortable seven tries to one victory over Thanet Wanderers
Heathfield had a comfortable seven tries to one victory over Thanet Wanderers although the half time score of 10-10 might have suggested a close contest. Both teams were smarting from losses the previous week and this probably affected Heathfield’s ear
Heathfield 43 Thanet Wanderers 10
Heathfield had a comfortable seven tries to one victory over Thanet Wanderers although the half time score of 10-10 might have suggested a close contest. Both teams were smarting from losses the previous week and this probably affected Heathfield’s early efforts but the longer the game went on the difference between the two sides became clear. For Heathfield a centre and a winger both collected three tries.
The visitors kicked off and Ollie Smith immediately made the first of his numerous impactful runs breaking tackles, carried on by Kobe Tonkin and only the lack of a final pass prevented a very early score. This established the pattern for the first half as the home team enjoyed majority possession but somehow failed to finish any number of moves.
Given the size of the Wanderers’ pack the scrummage had been an area of concern and this was amplified when Matt Finney had to be replaced after about ten minutes, so that Tom Pritchard moved to hooker and Damien Pestell came into the back row. However the revised front row combination had a fine day with an increasing edge in the tight with Richard Cooley and Smith also making very effective contributions in the loose.
Some other early injuries needing lengthy treatment disrupted the first quarter including Ollie Robertshaw who was replaced by the home crowd favourite Levi Willis. Even though most of the game was in the visitors’ half, the Wanderer’s pack are an effective unit and several forward drives illustrated their potential. Indeed the visitors were first on the scoresheet after nearly fifteen minutes with a penalty on their first visit to the home half (0-3). Nonetheless most of the game was in the visitors’ half with the home team probably trying too hard and not doing the simple things. Munch May was giving his opposing scrumhalf a torrid time at the base of the scrum and he generally had a combative and effective day. He is clearly benefitting much from working with James Walsh outside him and they are becoming a useful pairing.
However Thanet now extended their lead as they ran back a long kick and their left winger collected the ball for the only time in the game and finished well. The conversion left the home team looking at a score of 0-10. This was the low point of the game, and indeed hopefully of the season, for Heathfield now scored 43 points without reply.
Ollie Brown opened the scoring with the first of his three tries on the day with a clinical finish five minutes before half time (5-10). Joe Wood could and should have added another in the same corner but for snatching at the pass. However just before half time Pestell scored a classic number eight try from the base of a five metre scrum to tie the score at half time (10-10).
The home team had the benefit of the slight slope in the first half but this became irrelevant in the second half as the home pack continued to secure majority possession and tries came regularly.
The home dominance was slightly interrupted when Willis, who was making his typically physical and useful contribution, was yellow carded for tackling when not ten metres. Even before he returned Wood ran a fine line to score his first on the day and Walsh duly converted (17-10).
The Thanet number eight is a fine young athlete who was probably their best attacking player on the day with a number of effective runs. However it is noticeable that only one of the home tries was scored by a forward. Smith made a number of crunching carries and his try was a worthy reward but it was the backs who were finishing today.
Brown and Wood collected two more tries apiece in the last fifteen minutes, with Walsh converting four on the day, as possession and pace took their toll. The Wanderers pack continued to graft away with a couple of well-organised drives but these were eventually contained by the home pack who had always competed fiercely and probably edged the breakdown. Heathfield’s lineout utilised far more variations than the previous week but it was noteworthy but neither team lost on their own put in.
Coach Dave Jones was delighted with the overall team performance, declining to identify a single man of the match, albeit giving the whole front row a particular mention. This was a much improved team from last week who now look forward with some belief to a tough but enjoyable season.
This Saturday (29 September 3.00pm) Heathfield visit Aylesford who gave them a hard time last year.