Six tries overcome Sevenoaks
Heathfield secured an emphatic six tries to one result over the team which had been level with them in the league table at the start of the game.
Heathfield 40 Sevenoaks 5
The home team showed four changes in the starting lineup from last week while the visitors also had injury issues. Squad depth and development of young players is critical for a club so Heathfield will be pleased to see another young man making a pleasing first team debut with Toby Warren starting on the right wing.
Conditions were not straightforward with occasional snow flakes on a chilly day with a tacky surface so running and handling were never easy.
An early turnover in midfield allowed Heathfield to develop a series of repeated attacks using the width of the field, with numerous phases and eventually Sam Thewlis completed some fine play near the right hand corner (5-0). The home side had plentiful possession at this point and after fifteen minutes good ruck ball gave Munch May the chance to run a fine line to touch down near the left hand corner (10-0). May has grown in authority as the season has progressed and has generally kept the backline moving while increasingly looking for individual opportunities.
A few minutes later more Heathfield pressure in the left hand corner resulted in an attacking five metre lineout from which Ollie Smith was driven over for a deserved try (15-0).
However Sevenoaks were contesting well and their inside centre was catching the eye with strong running which tested the home defence throughout the game.
The home team counter-rucking was more effective on several occasions and the home pack generally looked hungrier for the ball in the first half. Nonetheless on a rare visit to the home half a fine solo effort down the right hand touchline saw the visiting fullback chip ahead and beat several defenders to touch down (15-5).
Continuing pressure on the visitors ended with a penalty which allowed Ethan Walker to open his account for the day and gave the home team a comfortable lead at half time (18-5).
Bruce Pestell was seen with some characteristic charges ball-in-hand whilst all of the front row of Matt Finney, Richard Cooley and Smith were earning the hard yards as well as having a satisfactory day in the tight.
If Sevenoaks were going to make a serious challenge in the second half, they needed a positive and secure start. However an immediate knock-on gave the home team possession and soon a penalty allowed Walker to extend the lead (21-5).
Sevenoaks did now exert pressure on the home side and most of the play in the third quarter was in the home half although they rarely threatened the try line. A visiting score at this stage might have upset things but gradually Heathfield reasserted themselves. This was partly down to some fresh legs as Ollie Robertshaw and Michael Nise arrived to make useful contributions. Robertshaw was noticed making an important turnover and Nise had some characteristic runs which took plenty of stopping.
Jamie Walsh had a good day with his tactical kicking and gradually Heathfield started to become more positive. On their first second half visit to the Sevenoaks 22, arising from an eye-catching break by Walker, a routine catch and drive ended with David Yates collecting his second try for the team as well as the try bonus point (26-5). Yates’ immaculate lineout work has been one of the foundations of the team this year so this was worthy reward.
Sevenoaks had suffered from a number of injuries during the game so their resources were very stretched as the game went on. The last few minutes saw dominant home possession allowing Tom Sheffield to collect two tries. First a lovely pop pass from Walsh put Sheffield under the posts and then Ollie Brown arrived in midfield to give Sheffield space to finish. Walker converted both to complete the score (40-5).
Since Christmas the Heathfield record is P5 W3 D1 L1. The loss was to the league leaders even though that was a disappointing performance. Nonetheless the team is in good heart and will be looking forward to the visit to high-flying Charlton Park this Saturday (16 Feb 2.30).