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3rd XV - Match centre

H'field & Waldron 3
Cinque Ports
Sat 23 Feb 14:30 - League Full time

Heathfield 3rds edge close game to stay second.

Heathfield 3rds 22 vs Cinque Ports 19

Heathfield 3rds 22 vs Cinque Ports 19
Injuries and absences continue to blight the senior Heathfield teams and for the second week on the trot, despite enormous efforts from all, Heathfield 3rds took to the pitch with a bare 15. This week they faced 22 from Cinque Ports who have proved some of what of a bogey team over the last few years. Although Heathfield tend to win the games they never really manage to put the dogged Cinque Ports away and indeed the return fixture before Christmas saw Heathfield only just edge the game by one point.
Heathfield kicked off with the blisteringly cold wind behind them in the first half. Historically Ports tend to bring a large heavy pack and dominate up front so the early game plan was to move the ball wide. However it was Heathfield that started the game on top up front but Cinque Ports with some very quick backs who made the first score. With the home side on the attack a pass was dropped and Ports hacked the ball on. Using their pace to great effect Ports won the race to touch down only to be impeded by the Heathfield cover. There was very little doubt that a try would have been scored and the referee correctly awarded a penalty try which was converted 0-7.
Awoken by this early upset Heathfield started to play and dominated the rest of the first half. Indeed Ports struggled to leave their own half up to half time as Heathfield piled on the pressure. The front row of Hancock, Martin and Kneller were superb at scrum time and won almost every scrum regardless of who put in and the backs were starting to make some in roads with fly half Burdett marshalling his troops and centre Leon Cullen at the heart of most attacks. Having said this Heathfield failed to turn this pressure into points, partly due to good defence from Ports but mainly due to a lack of precision in the final execution. Really the home side should have killed the game in this period and had they have taken one or two chances the game would not have been so close.
Finally towards the end of the first half the deadlock was broken with two quick tries. Firstly the forwards drove over with Craig Martin aided by Oli Hancock touching down. Then the backs riggled over with a deserved score for Leon Cullen, one try was converted by Burdett giving Heathfield a 12-7 lead at the break.
There was no doubt in the home sides mind that this game was theirs if they wanted it but the Ports backs were certainly a danger if the game broke down and this was proved early in the second half. Again Heathfield gifted a try to their opposition as they failed to deal with a fly hack on, the bounce of the ball favoureing the chasing Ports player who touched down. The conversion gave the away side the lead 12-14.
Pretty soon after this Heathfield scored the best try of the match. Deep in their own 22 Burdett called a backs move that gave full back Joe Hastings a little room to break the Cinque Ports cover. Scything through the players around him Hastings found himself in a one on one race with one last defender and unselfishly gave a wonderful off load to centre Oli Goldsworthy providing great support who ran the final 30 yards to score under the posts. Burdett converted and Heathfield were back on top 19-14.
Again the home side began to dominate but sadly they couldn’t quite find the killer blow. Despite several chances for Heathfield to score Cinque Ports held on and then rather fortuitously, with Heathfield trying too hard to force the issue, intercepted a stray pass and ran the length of the field to score. The conversion was missed but the score was tied 19 all.
Determined not to loose the game Heathfield pressed one final time. Some strong running around the fringes from scrum half Jack Bayley and flanker Ivan Downes, who both carried well all game, secured a good field position and Ports gave away numerous penalties to try to break up the Heathfield attack. 30 yards out another penalty was awarded and Bayley cleverly took a quick tap to gain a few extra yards. Again Ports were penalised for not being ten but now the kick was in range and despite the pressure Burdett stepped up and slotted the penalty to give Heathfield the lead and the game 22-19.
Heathfield deserved the win given their dominance throughout the game and the fact that all three Cinque Port tries could easily have been avoided. However Ports deserved a loosing bonus point for their excellent defence and for taking their chances when presented which Heathfield at times failed to do. Kenny Lewes had a good game and got about the park, Leon Cullen was exceptional in defence and attack, Jack Bayley carried really well as did Ivan Downes and Brady Burdett directed the game at fly half well and kicked the winning points under pressure however man of the match this week goes to hooker Craig Martin. He nicked almost every Ports scrum against the head, secured Heathfield’s own ball easily and worked hard about the park all game.
Match Report Simon Hollingdale
Team: Greg Kneller, Craig Martin, Oliver Hancock, Kenny Lewis, Kevin Parker, Ivan Downes, Nick Evans, Matt Overy, Jack Bayley, Brady Burdett, Leon Cullen, Paddy O'Hara, Scott Gladwish, Simon Hollingdale, Oli Goldsworthy, Joe Hastings.

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