1st XV
Sat 23 Mar 2024  ·  Counties 1 Kent
Heathfield & Waldron RFC
1st XV
Tries: G Walter (2), T Simpson, L DunkleyConversions: T SimpsonPenalties: T Simpson
Four tries apiece but one Dover conversion makes the difference

Four tries apiece but one Dover conversion makes the difference

Philip Bell23 Mar - 22:43
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Dover 27 Heathfield 25

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose
For the non-French speaking, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Today we enjoyed some unusual circumstances such as an Albanian coach driver, a torrential downpour that drove players indoors during the warm up, a (very competent) lady ref, a prop with green hair and both loose head props scoring not one but two tries each but at the heart of the day was a cracking game in which Dover finally edged past Heathfield with credit to all involved. Rugby core values prevailed.
This may have been an end of season contest between two mid-table sides but it was well contested with the outcome in doubt till the end. Heathfield had first use of the slight slope and a variable breeze diagonally across the pitch towards the bottom corner,
Early possession allowed Tom Reilly to kick long where the home backs confused themselves enough to put the ball in touch in the bottom corner. An efficient lineout was quickly worked blind for George Walter to muscle over for the opening score, well converted by Toby Simpson.
Dover naturally charged back and secured a kickable penalty but it went wide. Heathfield were looking dangerous out wide and a promising attack down the left flank faltered from a poor final pass. However at the end of the first quarter solid lineout ball was then carried on well through several forward drives before Lucas Cuming and Harry Slinnhawkins combined well for Simpson to finish in the right hand corner. (0-12)
Heathfield then contained another Dover attack before good lineout ball was carried on by Dylan Eames in particular allowing Liam Dunkley to touch down in the left hand corner. At this point Heathfield had made just three visits to the home 22 and had collected a try on each occasion – the TV statos would have been impressed but Heathfield were playing well at this stage.
Dover are too good a side to crumple in this situation and another penalty gave them a good attacking position from which an efficient lineout catch and drive opened their scoring with a try for their loosehead Shaun Piddlesdon.
Heathfield had the last word in the half with a Simpson penalty. (5-20)
Neither side had a clear edge in the set piece and some mature observers thought the slope and wind advantage was worth about 15 to 20 ponts so the outcome was well in the balance.
Dover opened the second half in much the same way that Heathfield had started the first as a lineout provided an opportunity for Piddlesdon to claim his second on the day.
At this stage Dover were enjoying most of the position and possession. A series of penalties kept Heathfield on the back foot: a penalty chance came back off the post but Dover regathered the ball and soon worked their way over near the posts to take the lead, (22-20)
This prompted Heathfield to play more to their strength, working the ball wide when possible. A series of attacks on first the left hand side and then the right pressured the home defence. Finally more pressure into the right hand corner ended with a lineout from which Walter worked his way over for his second try on the day and the visitors’ try bonus point. (22-25)
With fifteen minutes left any outcome was possible. Eventually a long Dover kick out of defence was gathered near the half way line and another counter attack looked likely but Dover followed up to force a mistake and turn over the ball for a back to scamper over on the left hand side for their bonus point try. The conversion was missed to leave a two point gap. Ambitious counters from deep are all very well but they carry risk and today that went wrong.
This made for a tense last few minutes but eventually the whistle went to end this entertaining contest.
All of the Heathfield squad took considerable credit on the day with the front row of Walter, Ollie Tooke and Jack Ruddock playing the full 80 minutes against a seasoned opposite front row. Assorted issues meant that Heathfield only had one replacement so there was no room for tactical maneuvers by the coaches.
The result leaves Dover five points ahead of Heathfield in the league table and they will finish in that order whatever happens in the last week of the league season. Heathfield next welcome old friends Charlton Park for the last league game of the season (6 Apr 3.00).

Match details

Match date

Sat 23 Mar 2024




Counties 1 Kent

League position

Heathfield & Waldron
Team overview
Further reading

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