Heathfield 3s 19 v Lewes 3s 15
Heathfield 3rds edge close run match to stay second.
This fixture was due to be played at Lewes, but their pitch was deemed to be unplayable; resulting in it being moved to Heathfield. Sussex have confirmed that the game would be viewed as a home game for Heathfield. The team was a little stretched as a number of key players were unavailable, including three playing for the 2nd team. Kevin Parker stepped up to tight head prop from second row, with Kenny Lewis making his first start since returning from injury. In the back row Fin slotted in at Blind side, replacing Matt skinner who moved to outside centre. Dan Ellis stood in at scrum half; Greg Kneller replacing him at hooker. In the backs Leon Cullen started at inside centre and finally Simon Hollingdale started on the right wing.
The game started well for Heathfield, with backs and forwards combining well, stretching Lewes in the opening minutes of the game. Direct running form the backs and good recycling from the pack resulted in the first try by Kenny Lewis as he picked up and drove over the line from short range. Matt Skinner converted; Score 7-0. Poor discipline from Heathfield helped Lewes back in the game, putting them in good field position, they sensed the opportunity to level the score raising their game; despite excellent defensive tackling from the backs, good offloading put them over the line out wide, but they were unable to convert; score 7-5. Both sides failed to completely dominate in the remainder of the first half; Heathfield had a number of promising attacks, but failed to cross the line. Lewes also pushed hard crossing the line again, but could not get the ball down with Heathfield clearing their lines from the resulting 5m scrum. During this period the defence put in by the backs kept Heathfield in the game on several occasions, though they were supported by the back row that combined well to thwart Lewes.
All things don’t always go to plan. Heathfield had been awarded a penalty, with a tempting gap to attack through; Brady Burdett took a quick tap, but with no close support he was forced to attempt a risky long pass that was intercepted and run in by Lewes for their second try, which again was not converted; score 7-10.
The game remained fairly evenly balanced in the second half. A good attacking move from the Heathfield’s backs, led by Brady Burdett led to the second Heathfield try. Brady had spotted open space behind lewes’s line; a long kick down field, backing the pace of Heathfield’s younger players was rewarded with Alex Ryde going over the line, which Matt Skinner converted; Score 14-10. Heathfield’s next try exploited the same weakness; this time Brady opted for a chip kick that turned the Lewes line; good support play and offloading followed, with the final pass from Greg Kneller to Simon Hollingdale who went over the line, which was not converted; Score 19-10. Lewes did not give up and they again crossed the line after another impressive attack, but their kicker again failed to find his range; score 19-15. The last 15 minutes of the game were tense for Heathfield, but a dogged defensive display proved enough to hold Lewes out, earning them a hard fought victory.
A mention must go to back row Alex Ryde who covered a lot of ground during the game, Matt Skinner tackled well out wide, Ian Schlieder was strong throughout and dealt well with a retreating scrum on several occasions and Dan Ellis did a manful job at 9 which is not his usual position. Man of the match was between two new boys though, Fin on the flank was excellent in the tackle and robbed a lot of ball but Leon Cullen at inside centre gets the award this week for his strong running and even stronger defence.
Match report: Paul Hookway
Team: Kevin Parker, Greg Kneller, Nick Evens, Paul Hookway, Kenny Lewis, Alex Ryde, Fin, Ian Schlieder, Dan Ellis, Brady Burdett, Matt Overy, Matt Skinner, Leon Cullen, Simon Hollingdale, Paddy O'Hara, Mike Powderly, Edward Bolton