Errors handicap Heath
Warlingham deservedly won this London South East II league match but Heathfield will feel that their own errors contributed to their downfall.
Warlingham 31 Heathfield 9
The home team started positively down the slight slope and collected a soft penalty in the first play, duly converted (3-0). In spite of this Heathfield started to make their case in the game with Damien Pestell and Tom Sheffield making some useful ground as the visiting pack was taking at least their fair share of possession. After fifteen minutes James Walsh opened Heathfield’s account with a penalty and the game looked very open. Richard Cooley was noticed making an important turnover in the tackle area where the larger home forwards were difficult to contain all day. At this stage in open play there seemed little between the teams.
Near the half hour the home scrum half made one big break near a ruck but the defence eventually contained him. This led to another home penalty (6-3) and the start of a bad five minutes for the visitors. Some big home forward carries again established good possession on the visiting twenty two and quick ball allowed their fly half to step inside tacklers for the players outside him to finish well (13-3). Almost immediately another soft penalty donated a further three home points (16-3).
Heathfield had plenty of ball throughout the game thanks to a secure scrum and a lineout which had a much better day compared to the previous week. Apart from a patch at the start of the second half when Warlingham stole some front ball, David Bayly, Ollie Robertshaw and Chris Brady generally secured their own throw-in.
At half time the visitors will have felt that the game was still there to be taken and an early penalty (16-6), after a good forward drive including useful yards by Robertshaw, suggested a close contest. However the dominant Heathfield fault on the day led to the end of those hopes. Good ruck ball was being worked wide when the handling broke down in midfield and Warlingham seized on the chance to attack into the right hand corner and their winger managed to plant the ball as he was driven into the corner flag (21-6).
Undaunted Heathfield now had a period of pressure in the home half which led to a Warlingham second row being binned. However the visitors were unable to take advantage of the extra man even though Michael Nise joined the contest at this point. He made several characteristic runs but the the home tacklers take credit for their stout efforts against him.
Heathfield continued to have a significant share of possession and a further Walsh penalty reduced the gap to 12 points (21-9). The Heathfield scrum took a couple of balls against the head and at the very least a losing bonus point looked possible. Walsh was giving his opposite number a hard time and Bayly added to his growing reputation with a solid hard-working performance.
However the visiting supporters became increasingly accustomed to passes going to ground as the effective home defence pressurised the Heathfield attackers. Handling conditions were not ideal but the home team had a much lower error count. Perhaps Heathfield were trying to play too creatively but this can only be done at the right moment.
Warlingham duly reaped reward for their defensive efforts with the try bonus point as they ran in two tries in the last few minutes (31-9). The result reflected the team’s relative league positions but it was still a disappointing Heathfield performance.
Heathfield next welcome Lewes (23 Mar 3.00pm).