Heath home happiness
Heathfield scored two tries to nil and thus were deserved winners although the scoreline and last few minutes of the match may have suggested a close contest. Heathfield took more of their chances than the visitors.
Heathfield 13 Lewes 9
In initially excellent conditions in front of a decent crowd this was a thoroughly competitive match in which the home team scored two fine tries within twelve minutes playing some of the best rugby this side has produced in recent years. There was a pace and sense of direction about the whole team which produced due reward. The disappointment for Heathfield will be that they failed to capitalise on superior possession and position when the chance was there.
After recovering possession from the kick off Heathfield ran through several phases and Joe Woods worked his way over near the clubhouse corner although he was unable to convert his own try (5-0). Lewes immediately responded with a penalty (5-3). A few minutes later a Lewes kick out of defence was worked back through a number of pairs of hands for Joe Price to collect his first try for Heathfield (10-3). Again the visitors responded soon afterwards with another penalty (10-6). Indeed the penalty count against the home team throughout the game will have caused concern for the coaches.
In saying that the only other scores in the game were a penalty for each side it would be wrong to suggest that the game lacked excitement or endeavour. Indeed Lewes created several opportunities in the rest of the first half when their undoubtedly talented backs were eventually contained by good defence and also perhaps through some faulty options.
Following some pressure Lewes deservedly came within a point of the home team with another penalty made all the simpler for the ten yards donated for pointless backchat (10-9). The home team continued to play some lovely rugby and David Yates, who carried for many hard yards on the day, was unluckily adjudged to have been held up over the line at the end of one especially fine all team move.
The last score of the half, and indeed of the game, came on the stroke of half time with a penalty by Bryn Jones who had taken over kicking for the day (13-9). A Lewes player was binned for deliberate obstruction in the incident, not for what some in the crowd thought was a dangerous tackle but about which the referee had no issues.
Overall Heathfield had majority possession through a scrummage which had increasing authority and a lineout which creaked occasionally but also stole several opposition balls. David Bayly contributed all over the field, especially at the breakdown and he may have been disappointed to be replaced but this enabled Kobe Tonkin to make a welcome return from injury. Tonkin’s contribution in the second row allowed Bruce Pestell to move into the back row. This combination meant that the home scrummage became domi nant and Pestell could make even more impact in the loose.
The Heathfield back division is very much a work-in–progress. Tom Sheffield had a fine ‘definitely the last’ game before travelling abroad but there are plenty of talented players remaining who will become more effective as positional issues are resolved and the best combination decided.
A rain shower early in the second half will have made handling more difficult but this does not explain a generally disappointing second half. Most of the game was played in the visitors half but their defence proved sufficient. Heathfield did have one penalty chance but it drifted wide. On several occasions Heathfield had five metre scrums or lineouts but the Lewes side were far from beaten and managed to disrupt and drive play back upfield. Indeed they had a couple of brief periods of pressure when they may have hoped for a result-stealing try.
The second half may have lacked the quality or spectacle of the first but many spectators were happy to give credit to the home team who stifled a dangerous visiting team.
The last few minutes were made more tense as Price was binned for an alleged foul tackle but the home pack controlled possession and the visitors were unable to exploit the extra man.
Results elsewhere continue to suggest that this is going to be a highly competitive league but the form showed by Heathfield today means that they will be very much part of the conversation.
This Saturday (3pm 28 September) Heathfield travel to Warlingham who have never yet lost to Heathfield.