Heathfield 3rds 7 Hastings 2nds 12
With the Hastings first team without a game today is was feared this clash was going to be a tough one.
Heathfield 3rds 7 Hastings 2nds 12
The Heathfield 3s vs Hastings 2s games over the last couple of years have always been close, hard fought encounters. Heathfield did very well before Christmas in the away fixture however with an impressive 10-48 win but with the Hastings first team without a game today is was feared this clash was going to be a tough one. This was also Heathfield’s first game back after Christmas and no doubt the turkey lunches and mince pies lay heavy on one or two bodies at the start. The warm up didn’t really go according to plan either as half the time was spent with a chain saw cutting and clearing a tree that had fallen and obstructed the dead ball area. Anyway, enough of the excuses, onto the game.
Hastings won the toss and elected to play up hill for the first half, a sensible decision given the conditions and Waldron pitch. Heathfield kicked off and to be fair started the game very well. The forwards held their own against a very big and well drilled visiting pack; in particular props Parker and Burchett did well against much bigger opponents. The backs also pushed on and attempted to move the ball despite the rain and muddy conditions. Unfortunately a few passes went astray and the home side lacked a little sharpness in the final third. Hastings were excellent at the break down using their well drilled forwards to great effect and this also stifled the home side’s attack. When Hastings tried to attack themselves the Heathfield defence was very strong. Alex Borg at hooker was covering every blade of grass and the back row of Skinner, Schlieder and Downes were superb in the tight against far larger opposition. Ben Darcy playing at 2nd row also impressed. After some further pressure in the Hastings half Heathfield were awarded a penalty, a quick tap resulted in the ball reaching inside centre Gareth Lloyd who danced around a couple of players and crashed over. Skinner converted giving Heathfield a deserved lead 7-0.
This lead was short lived however, Heathfield failed to deal with the next kick off and in the muddy conditions somehow the cover slipped and missed the ball as it was kicked on. A Hastings player pounced and ran in under the posts. A soft try that was duly converted 7-7.
Mindful that the 2nd half would be tough playing up hill Heathfield turned up the gas again but couldn’t quite take the next score. Several forays into the Hastings half were repelled and 2nd row Kenny Lewes was unlucky not to score as he was held up over the line. This left the half time score 7 all.
The saying goes that the Waldron slope is worth two tries in any game so Heathfield were well aware they had a lot to do to stay in this close game in the 2nd half. This wasn’t helped when a couple of missed tackles first thing in the 2nd half allowed Hastings thorough again to take the lead. Thankfully the conversion was missed 7-12. This could have seen the flood gates open as Hastings now had their backs up but Heathfield can take great credit for the remaining 35 minutes of this 2nd half. Against a very strong and heavy pack in conditions that favoured the visitors, somehow they managed to hold on, stop Hastings from scoring again and secure a loosing bonus point. The final score 7-12.
It would be hard to say Hastings didn’t deserve their win, on the day they were the stronger team, but Heathfield certainly deserved the bonus point and the defensive effort, aside from two errors was magnificent. It was great to see Mike Brown return from injury and he did well in defence at full back, Jack Bayley also covered well. Man of the match could have gone to Gareth Lloyd who tackled really well and made some lovely runs but Ivan Downes deserves the award this week for his excellent all round performance.
Match report: Simon Hollingdale.
Kevin Parker, Alex Borg, Rory Burchet, Ben Darcy, Kenny Lewis, Matt Skinner, Ivan Downes, Ian Schlieder, Jack Bayley, Brady Burdett, Matt Overy, Gareth Lloyd, Paddy O'Hara, Mike Shallcross, Mike Brown, Dan Ellis, Mike Powderly, Paul Hookway, Frazer Richards, Tom Keylock