Heathfield 27 Folkestone 40
Heathfield has always been proud of its hospitality to visiting clubs and have always enjoyed games with today’s visitors Folkestone. However today the hospitality extended beyond the clubhouse as the home side donated three tries which effectively decided this high-scoring game. For neutrals this was an entertaining game but it was frustrating for the home supporters and team.
In excellent conditions with minimal wind Folkestone played up the slight slope and after ten minutes were 14-0 down. After some slightly frantic early play the visitors had good field position in the home left hand corner. A solid scrum by Heathfield provided good ball to outside centre Tom Tingley standing at first receiver in a planned move. He made many yards before being stopped and then good hands moved the ball to Toby Simpson who finished well under the posts, converted by Jack Morgan. At this stage Heathfield were playing some lovely 15 man rugby with loose head Fraser Goatcher already credited with three useful carries. Then good ball from a scrum on the right hand side was moved wide and a chip ahead was recovered by Tingley who worked his way over.
Heathfield were now looking dangerous with majority possession and were pressing for another score with an overlap on offer when someone who wishes to remain anonymous tried a flip through his legs which was gratefully received by a Folkestone centre who had the pace to outstrip the cover for the first of the day’s gratuitous offerings, and arguably a key turning point.
Folkestone soon further reduced the deficit with a penalty. Heathfield had another period of pressure but a combination of good defence, home errors and conceding penalties in good positions prevented any scoring. On the half hour Folkestone took the lead with the next donation when a penalty was kicked for touch but the home winger knocked the ball back into play only for the Folkestone winger to collect the rebound and stroll over (14-15).
Heathfield soon replied as another period of pressure ended when Tom Cornwall, for the third week in a row, ran a lovely line near a breakdown to dive over. However the half ended with the third visitors’ try from some solid work in their centres.
The half time score of 19-22 reflected an even error-strewn contest which was much in the balance. The Heathfield scrummage had a very solid day and clearly had an edge while the lineout was also in generally good shape with Henry Ross making his first seasonal appearance being the most effective operator both in securing his own ball and in disrupting the visitors’.
Early in the second half another interception gave Folkestone many yards and they were soon rewarded with a simple penalty in front of the posts. This was answered by a home penalty but that, in turn, was soon cancelled out by an impressive Folkestone penalty from the 10m line.
With the game very much in the balance and fifteen minutes remaining Jack Morgan put in a massive kick out of hand to give the home side a good position. The cheers of the home supporters were soon silenced as another interception was run back for the visitors’ bonus point fourth try (22-33).
Heathfield now emptied their bench with Richard Poole, Ed Koops and Dan Jones replacing Rees Webb, Jeyden Rainbow and Munch May. This was rewarded with some excellent play pressing into the top right hand corner and quick ball moved wide left where Goatcher took a long pass and then fed Toby Simpson who still had plenty to do before touching down for Heathfield’s bonus point try.
At 27-33 Heathfield still had hopes of snatching a win but Folkestone had the last word with a well taken try in the bottom corner by their number eight following several phases.
Folkestone deservedly took the spoils on the day and there was plenty of self-recrimination in the Heathfield ranks afterwards which will hopefully be turned to positive effect. There were too many basic errors and poor options which allowed their opponents back into a game which should have been put to bed before half time. Tingley was rightly picked out by Folkestone as Heathfield’s best player on the day.
After a week’s break Heathfield next travel to another old rival when they visit Pulborough (19 Oct 3.00).