Horsham bonus point away win
Promotion candidates Horsham were too efficient for a home side whose pack is still evolving.
Heathfield 5 Horsham 56
In excellent conditions with almost no wind Horsham took control of the game in the first few minutes with a penalty and then soon followed up with a well worked try as they efficiently used good possession from a lineout following a penalty and two phases later good support ended with a deserved converted try (0-10).
Heathfield had started with the same front row combination as the previous week and it quickly became apparent that again this was not working. Horsham are an upcoming and effective side and they ruthlessly exploited this area to secure plentiful possession, with their number 8 having a big impact. By the time the home side had arrived at a workable front five the game was gone. The second Horsham try came after twenty minutes as they pressured the home line in the bottom corner in several scrums and eventually worked their way over (0-17). They scored directly from the restart as some poor tackling allowed a rampant visiting team a simple try in the left hand corner (0-22). Jack Smith now came on and had a decent game in the second row as Ollie Smith moved up to tight head and Jesse Muir and Richard Cooley exchanged positions.
Thankfully Heathfield now had a better period and the visiting defence was being stretched so that a deliberate knock on by a defender a few yards from his own line deservedly received a yellow card. Nonetheless Heathfield were not able to trouble the score board even with an extra man while Horsham did well to collect a penalty just before half time (0-25).
Once the initial personnel changes had been made the scrummage area was fairly even and both lineouts worked well without seriously challenging each other. Any hopes that Heathfield had of benefitting from the slight slope advantage in the second half were soon ended as Horsham turned over a promising home attack and good hands moved the ball wide for a try in the left hand corner (0-30). They soon scored two more in similar scenarios as turnover ball was efficiently exploited (0-42).
Ed Koops now replaced the injured Chris Elliott. Heathfield again had a decent period although perhaps the visitors relaxed slightly with the result clear and their bonus point secured. Ollie Brown was having an increasing influence on the game with some eye-catching runs causing problems for the visiting defence. Only a fumbled final pass foiled one try but soon afterwards another fine run was just halted in the bottom corner and Ken Hellier was on hand to touch down (5-42).
Several Heathfield individuals were making decent contributions. Ken Hellier had another fine game in difficult circumstances and Ethan Walker made some useful runs while in the forwards Jesse Muir, Henry Ross and Ollie Robertshaw each had some good moments but as a unit they had to give second best to the visiting pack who are playing with justified confidence and look a well drilled unit. Too often a Heathfield drive was turned over and Horsham normally had plentiful supporting players whereas home ball carriers were often isolated.
Horsham collected two more tries in the closing minutes as legs tired. The scoreline is slightly unkind to Heathfield but you cannot surrender control in the first few minutes of a match and expect to compete.
The home back division at times looked to be dangerous but they need better possession from a pack that remains a work in progress. Horsham are deservedly challenging for promotion and on this showing they are justified in believing that they can handle the next level.
This Saturday Heathfield visit Lewes (1 Nov 2.30pm).