U16s enjoy a terrific contest on mini tour in deepest Essex
By Matt kuzemko
U16s beat Billericay on tour and then watch Harlequins lose to Saracens
Heathfield & Waldron RFC U16 v Billericay RFC U16 – 23rd March 2019
Result: 26-39 (win for Heathfield)
With the league season now completed, a mini-tour to deepest Essex marked the close-to-last knockings of Heathfield U16s’ season in what proved to be a most enjoyable way. A few bleary eyes had greeted the coach-driver as team and supporters boarded at 8am at Heathfield’s Cypress Field, but when the match kicked off at Billericay at 10.30am, it was the tourists who proved the sharpest: a blind-side break to the left from scrum-half Ben Wyatt opened the scoring after just two minutes. The hosts responded in hearty fashion though, and a series of strong drives down the middle, with their hooker to the fore, eventually led to the remaining Heathfield defence to be outnumbered on the right with Billericay touching down to level the scores at five apiece.
More tries were to soon follow. With co-captain Jack Durnell leading with some aggressive close-quarters carries, fellow co-captain Kieran Dudgeon and Freddie Kuzemko running kicks back in secure manner, the Bees’ defence began to look a little stretched and, for a while, pinned in their own 22. No accusation of uneven refereeing could be levelled at ‘sir’ either, as he proceeded to yellow-card his own son after a run of penalties conceded by Billericay bravely defending their line. With the back-row defence now depleted, Wyatt danced over from 5 metres out, showing the footwork of Fred Astaire to mesmerise would-be tacklers. A further Wyatt try immediately followed, this time from well-rucked ball from the kick-off with the forwards in dominant form all morning, a kick over the top into space from the 9, an impressive chase from Cameron Reader to tackle his trapped opposite number, and Wyatt following up to gather the now-loose ball and scoot over for a first-half hat-trick of touch-downs. Freddie Kuzemko converted well to leave the score at 5-17 after 25 minutes.
Back came Billericay though, as they did all morning – no lack of determination there. ‘Hitting up the middle’ proved to be a successful strategy for them, and well-rucked ball on their own side led to their centre strolling over under the posts soon after. Now, on the stroke of half-time, came Heathfield’s best try of the season and one which had the coaches purring with pleasure that perhaps all that coaching over many years had been worthwhile. Archie Proctor fearlessly dealt with a dangerous and testing cross-field kick, Dudgeon sent his light frame immediately afterwards to clear the following ruck, and away went the backs and supporting forwards from Wyatt’s hard-spun pass off his left hand. Angus Paterson, enjoying a fine running and kicking game at fly-half, perfectly released the direct George Hayter at pace, who then fed Oli Tooke to take a straight line and deliver an exquisitely-timed pass to Reader who galloped away at full speed down the right to score. Wonderful. Half-time score of 12-22.
Billericay, however, proved that they were not finished yet and on resumption teed up their dynamic and destructive centre to smash over from a tap penalty. An excellent conversion from their fly-half (known, apparently, as ‘Poster Boy’ according to his match shirt) tightened the score to 19-22. In fact, the home side could well have taken the lead shortly thereafter as that centre again blasted up the middle, brushing aside would-be tacklers on a run that had some former players wincing, only to be stopped by a crunching tackle from Reader, now patrolling the field at full-back.
Heathfield now began to take the upper hand, as Billericay shuffled the deck to bring on fresh legs and also to give some of their newer players some match time. An attacking but ragged scrum five was recovered by Dan Newman and Tom Reilly, now on the field at fly-half, giving Hayter the chance to take an angled run to score on the left. Back came the Bees though, and a close-quarters scramble allowed a further score and another fine conversion to narrow the gap to a single point at 26-27 with 25 minutes left.
Good set-piece work had marked much of Heathfield’s play all match, and on this they could now rely as the match tightened in score if not in the open, exciting nature of the game. A solid scrum, nearly always going forward, and a secure line-out with Ellis Wilson controlling matters with imperious jumping at number two, provided reliable possession. Stanley Campbell at inside-centre always offered his half-backs a willing and direct route out when under pressure, and Jon Beaton posed a hard-running threat on the right wing when he got the ball. Meanwhile Jack Flint, almost never having a bad game, proved the centrepiece on which nearly all Heathfield’s best rucking and mauling work gathered. Indeed, it was Flint’s resolute and direct work and the subsequent ruck that created space for Hayter to score his second and open the gap in the scores again. A further five-metre scrum a few minutes later gave Oliver Hunt, who had enjoyed a good game overall of scrapping for loose ball on the open-side, the opportunity to similarly scramble over on the right. Reilly knocked over a good conversion. That was the final score of what had been a great game – 26-39 to the visitors.
Team: 1. Oli Tooke; 2. George Hayter; 3. Jack Durnell (c); 4. Ellis Wilson; 5. Jack Flint; 6. Sam Tiley; 7. Oli Hunt; 8. Dan Newman; 9. Ben Wyatt; 10. Angus Paterson; 11. Kieran Dudgeon (c); 12. Stan Campbell; 13. Archie Proctor; 14. Cameron Reader; 15. Freddie Kuzemko
Replacements: 16. Jon Beaton (35) for Freddie Kuzemko. 17. Tom Reilly (35) for Archie Proctor
Scores: 2 mins: Heathfield – try (Ben Wyatt) (0-5)
15 mins: Billericay - try (5-5)
23 mins: Heathfield – try (Ben Wyatt) (5-10)
25 mins: Heathfield – try (Ben Wyatt) and conversion (Freddie Kuzemko) (5-17)
30 mins: Billericay – try and conversion (12-17)
35 mins: Heathfield – try (Cameron Reader) (12-22)
37 mins: Billericay – try and conversion (19-22)
42 mins: Heathfield – try (George Hayter) (19-27)
45 mins: Billericay – try and conversion (26-27)
47 mins: Heathfield – try (26-32)
59 mins: Heathfield – try (Oliver Hunt) and conversion (Tom Reilly) (26-39)
Full-time score: 26-39