Big Brighton (and traffic) beat tardy Heathfield
Brighton demonstrated why they are league leaders with an efficient six tries to one win over Heathfield.
Brighton 40 Heathfield 7
The home team are a large well-drilled unit who look very menacing in attack with excellent supporting runners. When Brighton go forward the ball carrier often has several possible people to pass to whereas Heathfield, who typically attacked in wider channels, often had only one supporting player.
Heathfield did not help themselves with team members still arriving fifteen minutes before the kickoff. Traffic arising from a minor local soccer event caused delays for many and the visitors duly started the game in the wrong state of mind. Given the relative positions league Heathfield will have had low expectations from this match but the team management were still disappointed with the performance.
Brighton were clinical from the kickoff as they secured the ball, made good yards and then moved the ball wide for their right wing to touch down (5-0). In a sign of their confidence they soon afterward spurned an easy three points and went for the corner. Although the Heathfield defence held out on this occasion, after fifteen minutes the home right winger collected the second of his three tries on the day (12-0).
Most of the play was in the visitors’ half but their defence was generally adequate so it was a surprise when just before half time a set piece move from a lineout saw the home inside centre touch down under the posts (19-0).
Charlie Smith had taken a knock and was now replaced by Sam Thewlis.
The lineout was a good contest throughout the game while the big Brighton pack were often exerting pressure on the Heathfield scrummage but neither side had dominance. The Brighton hooker, a recently arrived Aussie, is a big unit who is also a decent player in general and he looked even more effective late on when he moved to tight head.
Michael Nise and Fern Yaber (making his first appearance for the club) made effective contributions as replacements.
For the first twenty minutes of the second half almost all the play was in the home half as the Heathfield pack started to play with more conviction and managed to build some phases. Thewlis was becoming noticeable in the backline as he went looking for the ball and Tom Sheffield had one decent break but could not find support. Even so this led to the first of two successive five metre lineouts which offered Heathfield good attacking opportunities from which they would normally expect a score. However the home defensive organisation proved adequate. A home second row was sin-binned after ten minutes but any Heathfield hopes of benefitting from this were dashed as almost immediately Tom Pritchard was binned for malpractice at the breakdown.
The home team secured their bonus point try with fifteen minutes remaining (26-0). The visitors were not downhearted and some consistent pressure eventually saw Ollie Brown make good yards into the left hand corner. Quick ruck ball gave Thewlis the chance to touch down in the corner and Ethan Walker duly converted (just!) (26-7).
Brighton collected two more tries in the last few minutes with their right winger completing his hat-trick and then ex-Heathfield player Nick Cherry touching down besides the posts.
This Saturday (2 Feb 2.15) Heathfield entertain Deal & Betteshanger in a deferred league match. These two clubs are very close in the league although Deal collected an impressive win against league promotion challengers Lewes this weekend.