Warl smart early, Heath hurt, fair result
Warlingham were the deserving winners of an eventful match by five tries to three. The home team took the initiative early, generally played more intelligent rugby and took their chances well. Heathfield had some good patches but made poor tactical choic
Warlingham 40 Heathfield 19
In the first half the home team had the benefit of the slope and a slight advantage from the wind which they exploited more effectively than Heathfield managed later in the game. The game started an hour late because of serious traffic issues in the area which delayed the referee more than anyone. This did not benefit either side but Heathfield fumbled the kickoff reception and Warlingham immediately capitalised with a series of attacks ending with a try under the posts (7-0). In spite of this early setback the visitors gradually came into the game and managed several forays into the home half. Gus Taylor made some useful breaks from the back of the scrum, on one occasion linking with Pete Phair and it needed a last ditch tackle by the home full-back to prevent a try.
Warlingham extended their lead with a penalty (10-0) and it was at this point that Heathfield’s injury problems began. Kobe Tonkin replaced David Yates who took no further part in the game. After half an hour the home team collected another try as some smart handling in the centre provided a simple opportunity in the left hand corner (15-0). Ollie Robertshaw now made his seasonal reappearance following the end of the cricket season to replace Tom Pritchard in the back row, although the latter returned on several occasions in the rest of the game.
The last score of the half came with another home penalty (18-0). Nonetheless there had been enough good things by Heathfield for there to be some realistic hopes of turning the game around given the conditions. Indeed Heathfield immediately collected a fine try in the left hand corner (18-5) as David Bayly finished some quick handling from a tap penalty. Bayly had one of the most outstanding individual games seen from a Heathfield player in recent years covering the whole pitch in attack and defence, winning lineouts and making key tackles in open play. He took plenty of physical punishment for his pains but stayed on the pitch for the whole game setting a great example.
In the second half Heathfield too often attempted to play expansive rugby in their own half and were duly punished. Gus Taylor now had a nasty accidental clash with a home player from which the latter stayed down for a long time although he eventually recovered and was judged able to continue playing. However Taylor had to be replaced with a serious-looking knee injury. This blow to the visitors was compounded as Warlingham worked the ball wide for a well-taken try in their left hand corner (23-5). Soon Bruce Pestell was replaced by Levi Willis showing his mature adaptability. However the inevitable disruption to the visitors was well exploited by the efficient home side who now put the result beyond doubt by two well taken tries by their backs (37-5).
Nonetheless Heathfield were not finished and would have collected another try as a tap penalty ended with the ball being dropped in the act of scoring. A Warlingham player was sin-binned for malpractice at the breakdown near their line which led to the penalty. Heathfield now scored two tries in quick succession (37-19). First Willis showed an impressive grasp of the laws of the game grounding the ball at the base of the posts after a characteristic physical charge through the opposition and then Bayly touched down in the same place as his earlier score benefitting from a sweet pass from prop Matt Finney.
Heathfield began to hope for at least a bonus point for a fourth try and Sam Goatcher had one major run but the home defence did just enough and there was no further scoring.
Several Heathfield players had excellent games with Munch May continuing to impress. The scrummage was unstable all game with endless resets and wheels. By the end Heathfield were well in control of that phase but it was too late to impact on the result.
Both teams suffered frequent injury disruptions in spite of a superb playing surface providing a thick grass cushion. Heathfield used all eight of their allowed rolling substitutions. News from the treatment room will be awaited anxiously as there are many tough games coming up.
This Saturday (3pm 5th October) Heathfield entertain Medway who look to be having a good year.