Heathfield too strong for gutsy visitors
Heathfield secured a comfortable five tries to two bonus point home win against a resilient Pulborough team.
Heathfield 33 Pulborough 14
The Heathfield pitches were in immaculate condition, there was no rain or significant wind and the respective results so far this season suggested that this would be a close encounter so everything was set for a good contest.
Pulborough scored almost from the kick off. An initial clearance kick did not find touch and the Pulborough winger ran the ball back, kicked ahead, nobody from the home side claimed the ball which bounced kindly for the visitors and the Pulborough player jogged under the posts for an easy seven points with barely a minute gone (0-7).
Heathfield replied almost immediately as an efficient lineout was taken through several phases and good handling saw Seb Jones touch down in the clubhouse corner. Harry Reilly converted impressively (7-7). The visitors had a penalty chance to regain the lead but the kick went wide and Heathfield soon scored again with an almost identical repeat of the first try. Good lineout ball was worked through a couple of phases and then good hands put Sam Goatcher into the corner (12-7).
Reilly was successful with a penalty (15-7) as consistent home pressure saw the ref warn Pulborough that a card was imminent. Nonetheless the visitors were having their moments although another penalty chance went begging.
Heathfield finished the half strongly with two fine tries. First good set piece possession from a scrum allowed Bryn Jones to deliver a precisely weighted chip into the visitors’ 22 and Ken Hellier recovered the ball to put Chris Elliott over (20-7). Jones is playing especially well at present. Then an extended period of play saw chances in the left hand corner followed by good hands across the pitch ending with Ethan Walker finishing well in the right hand corner on the stroke of half time for the bonus point (25-7).
The scrummage was closely contested all day with neither side being dominant although Pulborough managed to disrupt some of the home ball at the base. The lineout was well contested with Andy Noble again athletically securing some good ball.
Heathfield will have viewed the second half with optimism with the slope in their favour from such a strong position but somehow this did not happen. All credit should be given to Pulborough who often played some decent rugby but there is the distinct feeling that Heathfield lost concentration.
The home team started the second period strongly and when Ollie Robertshaw was stopped just short of the line from a scrum, Kobe Tonkin was on hand to work his way over (30-7). Pulborough were probably justified in claiming that Robertshaw had not released quickly in the tackle but it just wasn’t their day.
Heathfield coach Dave Jones now started using his bench and Richard Cooley and Ollie Brown joined the fray. Brown had several runs and it took some fine tackling to contain him.
Pulborough were never down hearted and after ten minutes of the half decent support play gave them deserved reward with a converted try (30-14). The rest of the game was fluctuating but increasingly scrappy as Pulborough kept threatening but the home try line was rarely threatened seriously. Another score would have given the visitors a sniff of a losing bonus point and they should not be disheartened by this result. Newly promoted, they are well worth their place in this league and Heathfield know that the return fixture next year will be a tough game.
A Reilly penalty completed the scoring (33-14) and while Heathfield will take plenty of pleasure from securing a clear bonus point win in what had looked like a potentially close contest, they will be only too well aware of some areas that need attention. Noble and Walker were both noted for decent games while Hellier continues to be appreciated by good judges of the game for his unobtrusive but very effective contribution.
This Saturday Heathfield visit Park House (18 Oct 3pm) who have always provided combative opposition in previous contests.