Colts lose Sussex final to late tries
By Philip Bell
Committed performance in spite of early injury disruption
Horsham Colts 36 Heathfield Colts 17
Horsham Colts eventually overcame Heathfield Colts in the Sussex Mike Richardson Colts Final by six tries to two after a well-contested and at times feisty affair.
The pitch at Chichester was firm but with a fair grass covering while the breeze was not strong enough to be significant. There was a good crowd of supporters from both clubs who provided a noisy background to the contest.
Sadly for Heathfield in the opening sequence of play Oliver Carr suffered a nasty and painful knee injury which forced his withdrawal. Carr is a useful all round player but he is especially effective in the lineout and this was a major blow to Heathfield hopes.
Horsham had the better of the first quarter. A long range penalty went wide but they eventually worked their way over in the right hand corner to open the scoring (5-0).
However the game was flowing all over the pitch with plenty of commitment by both sides which sometimes led to unforced errors. As the half progressed Heathfield came increasingly into the contest with skipper JJ Hart leading by example. A good run by Max Redman into the right hand corner established promising field position and much of the second quarter was spent in the Horsham 22.
This was a key period in the game as the Horsham defence withstood repeated Heathfield attacks. A score finally came from the last play of the game with a simple penalty by Luca Rosenberg (5-3).
In the scrummage Heathfield had a slight edge with Theo Bevacqua showing his versatility by switching to the tight head in the second half. In spite of the loss of Carr, the reorganised Heathfield lineout still managed to secure most of its own ball, often through Hart.
Horsham probably edged the breakdown and achieved more turnovers with some committed rucking.
Horsham appeared to take control of the game in the early part of the second half with two tries by their left wing, with the second in particular being a strong individual effort. However the Horsham kicker, who clearly has a decent boot from the tee and out of hand, was unable to convert either try so the lead was not yet decisive (15-3).
Heathfield pressure resulted in a tap penalty near the Horsham 22 with the ball quickly moved to Rosenberg who proceeded to step and dance his way through multiple tackles for a remarkable individual try under the posts. This was followed by some handbags involving most of both teams, reflecting the commitment if not the self-discipline of both sides. In a messy situation a yellow card for one player from each team was an appropriate outcome, with Max Lai for Heathfield and the number 8 for Horsham being given a ten minute breather – although there were plenty of other candidates. Rosenberg then converted his own try (15-10).
Horsham immediately charged back and went very close in the left hand corner but were just denied by a fumble. However they soon regathered possession and their fly half muscled his way over from short range to restore a 12 point lead.
Then it was Heathfield’s turn to reply as quick ruck ball was worked left and a delightful chip ahead was touched down by Zak Hebron, converted by Rosenberg.
At 22-17 and with the game flowing all over the pitch any result was possible. As they were behind Heathfield were having to take greater risks and Horsham duly pounced on errors to collect two converted tries in the final minutes.
Heathfield full back Zak Hebron had a fine game with secure catches of high balls and some effective runs. Rosenberg started quietly but grew into the game and his try was only one example of a number of elusive runs.
At the start of the season a match between these teams had resulted in a 50 point spanking for Heathfield so the closeness of this contest is a reflection of how far the squad has travelled over the season. In the Colts Premier league Heathfield finished third behind Horsham and Worthing while the Heathfield B side won the Colts Championship league. Heathfield are one of only two clubs in Sussex to have run two teams this year. The club looks forward to many of today’s players progressing into adult rugby as they certainly demonstrated today that they have the potential to perform effectively in that sphere.
Match day squad
1. Theo Bevacqua 2. Ben McKeown 3. Hamish Murray
4. Oliver Carr 5. Jj Hart
6. Harry Thatcher 7. Chester Stanyon 8. Harry Hodierne
9. Sam Anderson 10. Luca Rosenberg
11. George Skinner 12. Joe Mcintyre 13. Max Lai 14. Max Redman 15. Zak Hebron
16. Jack Hopkins 17. Piers Francis Oliver 18. Will Carey
19. Charlie Reed 20. James Stevens 21. Sebby Landsdowne 22. Archie Adam