Heathfield bonus point win after Lewes have good first half
A young Lewes team shocked the home side in the first half but Heathfield had too much physical power and eventually won comfortably.
Heathfield 28 Lewes 12
The final result probably looks consistent with the relative league positions of the two sides but this would not be a fair reflection on a game that Lewes deservedly led at half time with two well taken tries and worried the supposedly higher ranked team.
It was a classic game of two halves. In the first half Lewes demonstrated how they have been producing increasingly good results with some efficient taking of chances and good finishing. However in the second half Heathfield used their clear physical superiority, especially upfront, and ended up with an emphatic five tries to two bonus point win.
Lewes started much the more lively of the two sides and it was no surprise when a break in the centre was well finished into the left hand corner (0-5).
For much of the first half Heathfield seemed to be lacking an edge and several supporters commented that they seemed to be just going through the motions without the desired accuracy or urgency. Nonetheless several driving mauls started to impose pressure on the visitors and the home scrummage was gradually becoming dominant. On more than one occasion a Heathfield driving maul made good yards only for the effort to be wasted as someone drove off only to be isolated and turned over.
Shortly before half time on one of their increasingly rare visits to the home half, Lewes turned over a lineout and then neat footwork allowed their inside centre to make a lovely break and put a supporting player over for a very decent try, duly converted (3-12).
Heathfield responded with a penalty by Ken Hellier, having seen an earlier one come back off an upright (3-12).
Lee Vockins had been summoned from grouting his bathroom at short notice because of a late withdrawal on the morning of the game and he had a very decent day at scrum half, especially in the second half behind a dominant pack. He enjoyed renewing his old combination with Bryn Jones who had another combative and effective match. But many spectators had particular words of praise for George Leney’s efforts with some important tackles and good support work. His first try of the season was deserved reward.
At half time Richard Cooley and Tom Pritchard replaced Fraser Goatcher and Levi Willis. While both Cooley and Pritchard made a decent impact, this does not account for the different Heathfield performance in the second half. Dave Jones, Heathfield Head Coach, acknowledged afterwards that he used strong words in the half time huddle, emphasised by skipper Ollie Smith.
Whoever said what is unimportant but the results were obvious as almost from the start Heathfield produced several phases of clinical rugby ending with Ollie Brown touching down in the right hand corner – very similar to the first score against Park House a couple of weeks ago (8-12).
This was soon followed by another try as a five metre scrum was just held short of the line but Andy Noble came off the back and had the strength to work his way over the line although surrounded by defenders (13-12).
Heathfield then missed another penalty chance but more pressure produced quick ruck ball and Cooley drove over for the try (18-12)
Apart from the first half penalty the Heathfield kicking performance was dismal. None of the five tries was converted (two back off the woodwork), one of three penalty attempts succeeded and the restarts became increasingly laughable as they consistently failed to reach ten yards.
Almost all of the second half was in the visitors half as the home team physical advantage took its toll of the enthusiastic but youthful visitors. The Lewes loose head was binned for scrummaging impropriety which was unsurprising as the home eight had an increasingly dominant performance.
The Heathfield rolling maul was proving an effective and energy sapping weapon and Leney was the eventual beneficiary (23-12). The scoring was completed as Noble collected his second on the day at the base of another driving maul (28-12).
However the game ended with Lewes making a rare incursion into home half as they showed the impressive spirit that belies their lowly league position. Heathfield look forward to playing them again in couple of years’ time. They have a decent team in the making.
This Saturday Heathfield entertain Dartfordians (28 Feb 2.30) who lie second in the league table and who look safely booked for promotion.