All round performance secures good win
Heathfield collected a convincing eight tries to one win over a game Uckfield team who could not contain the powerful visiting pack.
Uckfield 10 Heathfield 44
The first few minutes saw a fired up home pack take the game to the visitors and they were duly rewarded with a penalty (3-0). However the Heathfield pack now started to function and a twenty metre drive from a lineout gave an indication of things to come. The first Heathfield try was a pushover try efficiently taken by Ollie Robertshaw, converted by Ken Hellier (3-7).
Sadly at about this time one of the Uckfield front row, Dave Woods, received a very bloody head injury and after some unsatisfactory confusion he was taken by ambulance to Brighton A&E. Heathfield wish him well and hope to hear good news soon following what was a disturbing incident.
Uckfield are currently suffering from a plague of front row injuries so Woods’ departure put even further strain on their already depleted resources.
Nonetheless Uckfield showed why they have won plenty of games this year as they exploited good turnover ball to create a massive overlap only for the scoring pass to go to ground. They created such situations several times during the game and Heathfield should learn from this.
Approaching half an hour the second Heathfield try was collected by Jimmy Stevenson-Wright who followed up a delightful Bryn Jones chip through (3-12). The next try was a Jesse Muir cadenza as he handled twice during an extended move, making good ground on each occasion, and then being on hand to plunge over for the points (3-17). Muir was the outstanding player on the day with a dominant scrummaging performance and frequently carrying the ball, apparently running with ease on a puddingy surface that handicapped most.
Almost immediately further Heathfield pressure ended with a deserved (bonus point) try for Munch May sniping from close range, following yet another useful carry by Muir, converted by Hellier (2-24). May is still developing as a player but this was one of his best games to date and several of his team mates afterwards picked him out for particular mention.
However the half ended with Uckfield showing their resilience as a period of pressure ended with Matt Evans plunging over under the posts (10-24).
While the Heathfield scrummage had another generally satisfactory day the lineout was less than immaculate with several throws going astray. Uckfield should take take considerable heart from the way they retained possession though phases while Heathfield’s weakness in coughing up possession in contact should be causing concern for the visitors’ coaches.
Early in the second half some good support play, with Ed Koops making a useful contribution, should have ended with a try in the left hand corner but a final slip ruined the opportunity. Jones was now binned following an altercation at a breakdown.
However Heathfield were starting to control the game and Andy Noble capped another massive game with a try from a lineout catch and drive (10-29). Soon afterwards Ollie Brown finished an extended move, with a run by Hellier as the centrepiece (10-34).
A yellow card for an Uckfield front rower meant that scrums were briefly uncontested but thankfully this did not affect the outcome. The Uckfield front row members can take pride in their performance under pressure.
Nonetheless Heathfield ended with two more tries. First Rob Fenner completed an extended sequence of play, including a another fine run by Hellier, with a try in the left hand corner (10-39). Then Ollie Smith barged his way over after some more good handling which included a useful run by Ollie Brown (10-44).
Smith seems to be enjoying his role as captain without it reducing his effectiveness as a player. Robertshaw had plenty of impact in both attack and defence but Muir and Hellier were clearly the standout players on the day.
Heathfield head into the New Year with the confidence that comes from building a string of good results and will be looking to finish the season slightly higher in the table. After the difficulties of last year all three teams in the club are winning more than losing and, most importantly, enjoying their rugby.
Coach Dave Jones was particularly pleased with the performance as well as the result. He commented “I thought we finally delivered a performance of the style we aim for.... Less rucks, quicker ball and hit the channels with effective support running providing off-load opportunities to keep a high tempo and momentum. Big mouthful, I know but that's what we train for and yesterday I thought they delivered. Almost everyone made hard yard breaks...”
The next Heathfield league game is at home to Hastings (10 Jan 2.15).