Wells more clinical than Heathfield
Tunbridge Wells won this local contest by four tries to one as they took their chances in contrast to Heathfield who failed to capitalise on their first half superiority.
Tunbridge Wells 32 Heathfield 10
Playing down the slope and with some slight wind assistance Heathfield started brightly and runs by Win Barrett and David Yates led to a lineout near the home right hand corner from which David Bayly worked his way over for a well-deserved try, securely converted by Sam Goatcher (0-7). Subsequent pressure gave Goatcher another penalty chance which came back from the upright but the home team were unable to clear their lines completely and soon Goatcher was able to correct his aim for another three points (0-10).
The home side were not daunted and after fifteen minutes some decent rugby now saw them construct a significant try in the left hand corner (5-10). This was almost their only visit to the Heathfield half during the first half as the visitors monopolised possession and position but were unable to break down a resilient defence. Barrett was making some gains in the centre and Bayly made good ground off the back of the scrum but generally Heathfield have lacked penetration this year. Several attacks faltered at the final pass while basic errors handicapped both sides.
The scrummage was messy with the ref taking exception to Richard Cooley’s scrummaging technique. This was exacerbated in the second half when Tom Pritchard had to be replaced for injury. Sam Cooley joined the front row and his brother moved to hooker but this unfamiliar combination was put under increasing pressure by the home pack.
Early in the second half Joe Burford and Gus Fraser came on as replacements but even these fresh legs could not stem the tide as the home side used the conditions effectively. After fifteen minutes of the second half two penalties had put the home team in front (11-10). Heathfield did make one visit to the home half but a penalty chance saw Goatcher hit the woodwork again. While it is possible that had this gone over the visitors might have been encouraged enough to alter the final result, by then it was probably too late.
Tunbridge Wells were now generally on the front foot with majority possession and their repeated pressure resulted in Charlie Smith being sin-binned for malpractice at a ruck right on the Heathfield line. Soon afterwards home forward pressure ended in a try in their left hand corner, impressively converted ((18-10). The home side collected two more tries including one from an interception, and a try bonus point, as Heathfield continued to try to play from deep but the tide had turned (32-10).
This result leaves Heathfield deep in relegation trouble although the half way point in the season has not yet been reached. Perhaps it should not be a cause for comment that Heathfield were beaten but that they have been so competitive at this level for three years given the size of the community on which the club is based. In the medium term it is pleasant to see that the lower Heathfield sides are doing well at present and that there are some useful players coming through the junior system.
This Saturday (7th Dec 2.15) Heathfield entertain Deal and Betteshanger.