Heathfield stem Medway tide
Heathfield secured an important home win in a close-fought low-scoring match withstanding a late surge by the visitors
Heathfield 13 Medway 3
Heathfield secured an important home win in a close-fought low-scoring match. Medway had their chances in the first half while Heathfield took their one early chance well and thereafter the home defence just proved adequate. The home team generally controlled possession in the second half and withstood a late surge by the visitors.
In excellent conditions in front of a decent crowd Heathfield went behind to an early penalty (0-3). Shortly afterwards Sam Goatcher had a long distance chance to level the score but was just short. Nonetheless before the ten minute point Heathfield scored the only and finally decisive try on the day as advantage was well played and decent handling eventually saw Charlie Smith touch down in the left hand corner. Goatcher converted impressively (7-3).
Although playing up the slight slope Medway had slightly the better of the rest of the first half and will rue their failure to finish the chances available. At this stage their backs looked threatening with the full back especially catching the eye with two fine runs. The visitors thought they had a try from a kick ahead but the score was rightly denied for offside.
Both sides missed one difficult penalty chance each and at half time the visitors will probably have believed that the game was very winnable.
However the home pack had already indicated that they would be very influential. The home scrummage had a clear edge in the first half and the lineout mostly worked well.
The second half lacked many flowing handling moves but the home supporters were not complaining as the Heathfield pack increasingly controlled possession. While the scrummage may have become more even following a substitution by the visitors, the home team were winning key fifty-fifty balls and establishing a level of control with successive phases. Some possession was achieved under severe pressure from the competitive visitors and Joe Price was often noted making hard yards to give the supporting players a target.
An early home penalty in the second half meant that the visitors would need two scores (10-3). Pete Phair replaced Bryn Jones at this point as the latter appeared to have a nasty arm injury. Jamie Walsh moved to fly half.
This was the key point in the game when a Medway score might have punctured the home belief but the home pack repeatedly worked their way forward up the slight slope. One attack reached the clubhouse corner but a poor option was chosen and the visitors were able to scramble clear.
With about ten minutes remaining Goatcher eased home concerns with a penalty from near the home ten metre line (13-3). This seemed to spur Medway to even greater efforts and they mounted a concerted attack into the bottom corner. They were afterwards insistent that they had scored a try but by the time the referee had a view of the matter Ben Inglis had worked his way under the ball.
Results thus far this season had suggested that this would be a difficult match for the home side but the coaches were afterwards delighted with the result and in particular with the commitment shown by the whole team. Recent injuries meant that this was some way from a first choice selection so there will be some pleasantly difficult selection choices to be made.
This was a team performance with the pack providing adequate possession and the whole team defending with great heart. It was a highly competitive match in which the home team probably just played the referee better.
Results elsewhere continue to indicate that this league will be an excellent contest with half the teams having two wins out of four – bonus points will be critical.
This Saturday (12 October 3pm) Heathfield make their first visit to old Colfeians.