Park beat Heath
Charlton Park, the current runners up in the league, were deserved winners in this game by five tries to one.
Charlton Park 31 Heathfield 10
Park have become a stronger all-round team in the last eighteen months and look well-equipped to hold their own at the next level.
Social relations between the two clubs are excellent while the contest on the pitch was well fought at a decent pace on a better surface than had been feared after recent heavy rain.
Heathfield were missing any number of first choice individuals but that is the nature of competition at this level. It also meant that yet another product of the Heathfield junior section started to learn about adult realities as Tom Keylock made his first appearance at this level.
Park dominated the first half and effectively had the game won by half time. They collected the bonus point try within ten minutes of the second half and thereafter the visitors saved face but little else.
Playing up the slight slope the home team soon established their position in the visiting twenty two and most of the first half play was at that end of the pitch.
Ominously for the visitors, their scrum was immediately under pressure. The home team were missing an important member of their front row but the remaining members looked very effective against a Heathfield front row who have had several good weeks recently.
The useful home right wing (apparently a player mislaid by Brighton) was following up a chip ahead but David Yates was adjudged to have obstructed his run and thus received a yellow card. Park are an efficient team and they duly collected their first try from the subsequent catch and drive (5-0).
After half an hour, consistent home pressure ended with a flanker finishing well in their left hand corner (10-0). From the restart they regained possession and a chip ahead bounced perfectly for the home backs who were too pacy for the visitors’ scrambling defence (17-0). At this stage Park looked a very good team.
Michael Nise replaced Ollie Robertshaw as Heathfield tried to change the pattern of play and this started to work as the visitors had time and possession in the home half. This ended with a deserved penalty (17-3). However the half was completed by another fine home try with a centre finishing well (24-3).
After the initial home scrummage pressure a measure of equality was achieved with neither side dominating. The home lineout looked a good unit and probably shaded that area. Richard Cooley and Jamie Walsh were both noted by many as having excellent games under pressure and Munch May continued to develop his game with a gritty performance at scrum half against an experienced old campaigner.
Some early second half Heathfield pressure was ended by a turnover at the breakdown and over-committed backs were unable to prevent Park securing their bonus point try (31-3).
Paul Keen now made a major run out of defence but the cover eventually stopped him near the home 22. David Bayly replaced Chris Brady, both of whom were making welcome returns from injury. Brady had made at least one important turnover and Bayly confirmed his earlier positive impression with another strong appearance.
Heathfield now had a considerable period of possession and position with Sam
Thewlis being just denied on the line. However a few minutes later Heathfield were awarded a penalty try after three successive penalties on the home five metre line, with James Walsh converting (31-10). Debate about the decision is probably still going on.
The last quarter saw no futher scores in what had been an entertaining game with the result much in line with the relative league table positions.
This Saturday (23 Feb 2.00) Heathfield entertain old foes Uckfield in the Sussex Bob Rogers Cup.