Crows sharper than casual Heath
Crowborough deservedly won this London SE2 league match as they were the sharper and more precise team throughout. The final score was consistent with the relative league positions and both teams will look forward to renewing the contest next year.
Crowborough 41 Heathfield 15
The weather gods had finally relented and even the Crowborough pitch was in excellent condition. Crowborough still believe that they are in the hunt for promotion while Heathfield are in comfortable mid-table so they did not perceive this game as critical. This was reflected on several occasions during the afternoon and especially at the start of each half when Heathfield donated a try through silly errors. An early penalty to the home team fell just short, so while the Heathfield defenders were considering their options a Crowborough player arrived to snatch the ball and touch down beside the posts (7-0).
Heathfield duly drove back up into the home half and a penalty by Ethan Walker was fair reward (7-3). However almost immediately a quickly taken lineout was well exploited by Crowborough with quick hands down the line to double their score (14-3). This pace and precision resulted in two more scores in the half which secured the home try bonus point (24-3). Tom Sheffield was now replaced by Mono Thewlis for what appeared to be a painful shoulder or elbow injury.
In the first half the home team were able to disrupt some of the visitors’ scrummage although neither side dominated while the lineout was even. Given Heathfield’s lack of their regular lineout operators, David Bayly and Chris Brady did well to secure as much possession as they did, thanks significantly to Tom Pritchard’s accuracy in throwing in.
The second half started with the other major Heathfield donation to the home side as a loose ball at the back of a defensive five metre scrum was gratefully pounced on by the home back row (29-3).
However Heathfield now had their best period in the game and repeated phases and decent handling allowed Thewlis to glide past defenders and touch down unhindered (29-10). The penalty count against the home side had been steadily increasing and the referee gave the home captain plenty of warning so it was no surprise when a Crowborough flanker was yellow-carded for the next offense.
In spite of being a man short Crowborough might well have extended their lead had one of their centres been more precise in placing the ball down – but in subsequent confusing play Joe Woods intercepted and was able to outpace the cover (29-15).
Crowborough were awarded another try from a pushover scrum although the visitors’ front row were afterwards emphatic that there had been no call of Set before the home pack engaged. While the home pack had a slight edge in the first half, the visiting front row had started to exert control in the second half with at least one penalty for a home prop standing up so that pushover try was completely out of line with the rest of that phase.
Crowborough completed the scoring as their scrum half dived over from close range to please the replete home supporters.
Crowborough have built a very decent side and their likely third place in the league is a fine result for their first season in this league. Their players certainly showed their delight at the outcome but since Crowborough is more than twice the size of Heathfield (electoral roll 28,000 to 12,000) once they put in place decent organisation and coaching this sort of result was always likely.
Heathfield complete their league season this Saturday (13 Apr 3.00pm) when they entertain Medway.