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1st XV - Match centre

Park House
Heathfield & Waldron
Sat 18 Oct 15:00 - London & SE Division - London 3 South East Full time

Park House outsmart poor travellers Heathfield

Park House played the smarter rugby on the day and were deserved winners on a day sadly marked by a serious injury to the Heathfield captain.

Park House 19 Heathfield 11
Park House played the smarter rugby on the day and were deserved winners on a day sadly marked by a serious injury to the Heathfield captain.
Heathfield have lost three games this year and all have been away to sides in or near South London.
A faulty initial home kick off was well exploited by Heathfield who collected possession and quickly moved the ball wide with only a final forward pass denying Ken Hellier a simple try. Thereafter in the early exchanges it was apparent that the home pack were an effective unit and their rolling maul soon earned them a straightforward penalty (3-0).
However Heathfield came right back and a quick tap by debutant Jim Stevenson-Wright was carried on by Chris Elliott and then Andy Noble finished well near the left hand corner (3-5). Most of the play was in midfield with neither side having control. Ollie Brown had a couple of runs from deep but he was probably receiving the ball too early and the home defence was adequate.
The home rolling maul secured a try after about twenty minutes (10-5) and it was becoming apparent that the game would be decided by the home pack or the visiting backs. At this stage some squally wind and rain were at the home team backs but this soon died away and thereafter it was a pleasant mild autumn afternoon.
Heathfield pressure now caused the home hooker to collect an obvious yellow card for tackling before the penalty taker had moved a couple of paces. Ken Hellier duly slotted the resulting points (10-8). However the visitors failed to exploit the extra man for the rest of the bin time, helped by a remarkable and unobserved American football-style block by the home number 8 on a Heathfield player following a chip ahead.
Nonetheless Heathfield deservedly took the lead shortly before half time with another Hellier penalty (10-11). At this stage Heathfield were optimistic that they would secure a result with the slope and conditions in their favour, and a back division feeling confident on the basis of the game thus far.
However as Heathfield have learnt over the years Park House are an awkward resilient opposition who play to their strengths and to which Heathfield sometimes fail to adapt. The home scrummage became increasingly effective and often denied Heathfield any first phase platform. This lack of stability started to transmit uncertainty to the rest of the visitors’ play and the home side effective pack did the rest.
An early penalty from the scrummage gave the home side the lead (13-11) and the outcome was in the balance. Then Sam Goatcher bravely went for the ball on the ground but he came off worst from the resulting accidental collision. He has a broken leg requiring surgery to insert a plate. Sam has thrived as captain this year and is also the leading try scorer thus far so he will be sorely missed. The fact that it took an ambulance at least 45 minutes to arrive is a matter for discussion in other places.
The game was necessarily switched to a neighbouring pitch and since this seemed to be only slightly wider than a couple of tennis courts the visitors perceived superiority in the backs became irrelevant.
Park House were very effective in playing their game while Heathfield seemed to be struggling to work out what was going on, perhaps unsettled by their captain’s injury. Most of the play was in the visitors’ half as the home team enjoyed majority possession, chiefly from the scrummage. Stevenson-Wright had made a solid and effective impact at scrum half but now moved to full-back as Munch May took over at scrum half and was noted in combative mode.
Jesse Muir was binned near the end and the resulting penalty completed the scoring (19-11).
Heathfield are in a transition period and a number of players will have learnt much from today’s game, as well as looking forward to welcoming Park House next year to the wide open spaces of the Cross-In-Hand pitches.
This Saturday (25 Oct 3pm) Heathfield entertain promotion candidates Horsham for what should be a very different game.

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Team selection has not been published for this fixture yet.

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# Team Pl Pts
1. Horsham 22 101
2. Dartfordians 22 90
3. Heathfield & Waldron 22 74
4. Old Dunstonians 22 67
5. Folkestone 22 66
6. Bromley 22 60
7. Uckfield 22 47

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