Late intercepts deny improving Heathfield
Crowborough just overcame Heathfield in a close contest by virtue of two late intercept tries.
Heathfield 3 Crowborough 20
Until the last few minutes defences had ruled the day with neither side achieving any significant penetration. The home team are having a difficult year and until the last few minutes they had realistic hopes of a draw or even a win. Heathfield were pleased to provide a pitch in excellent condition on a day when games were being called off elsewhere.
Heathfield, not for the first time this year, started with some errors and the visiting kicker duly collected the first points (0-3). The first half was generally a scrappy affair with few flowing moves as two teams suffering from injuries and other disruptions struggled to find any constructive moves.
Both kickers had one successful kick in the rest of the half (3-6) and Heathfield will have been building some confidence after the difficult events last week. Sam Goatcher also had one kick come back off the cross-bar and in a tight game that was significant. Just before half time Joe Burford burst through some loose play and made great yards into the visiting twenty two but the cover just contained him.
Bruce Pestell, Chris Elliott and Tom Pritchard were making welcome returns from injury and Pestell made some useful contributions ball in hand.
After the Crowborough scrummage had managed a decent nudge in the first scrum matters thereafter were generally even in that phase with the visitors perhaps having a slight edge. The Heathfield lineout, apart from a shaky patch early in the second half, worked well with David Yates and Pestell securing plenty of good ball.
Heathfield should have won this match in the period after half time. They had majority position and possession, with the added benefit of the visitors being a man short for ten minutes as a Crowborough centre was binned for an offence in the red zone. Levi Willis was making some useful runs and Seb Jones illustrated his versatility, pace and strength on several occasions. However the game was probably decided in this period as the visitors defence proved adequate and provided the platform for the final events.
In the last quarter Crowborough achieved better field position and Heathfield were probably forcing the game too much, although given the difficult season so far they should be pleased to be so close to a decent result. Nonetheless with about ten minutes to go, Crowborough seized on a loose pass in the home centre and although the initial break was just contained the visitors soon finished efficiently (3-13). Almost immediately afterwards another pass under pressure into midfield proved too easily read and the grateful visitor was able to stroll under the posts (3-20).
Heathfield will feel that fate was unkind and that they deserved something out of the game but the visitors’ defence was the key element on the day and they probably deserved the result.
Heathfield will look to more people returning from injury in the weeks ahead and there are plenty of winnable games to come.