Heath 1st XV had their match cancelled on Saturday when unfortunately Midhurst were unable to put out a team so it was left to the Heath RAMS to bring live grassroots rugby to Whitemans Green.
Newick II had only managed to play three games this season and lost them all. In comparison Heath II had only lost one league game – but, with the Newick 1st XV, topping the league above and having their game postponed there was always the possibility that a strong squad would be competing for the afternoon’s spoils. Heath’s 1st XV confined themselves to shouting from the touchline and the drizzly and very windy conditions were going to play their part.
The crowd was massive – with the Heath 1st XV match cancelled dozens of vocal Heath supporters had turned out. The Heath RAMS kicked off into the wind but with Newick winning the first turnover this gave an early indication that it was going to be a tough afternoon for Heath. Newick were the first on the scoreboard with an unconverted try primarily due to successive missed tackles by Heath across the pitch.
From the restart, Newick kicked through and a Heath player picked up from behind the tryline. The safe option was to kick for touch but Heath decided to take the Newick backs on so ran it - and made 20+ yards. RAMS line-out, RAMS penalty, RAMS line out, RAMS penalty meant Heath were slowly moving up the field. But again Newick turned over the ball and another series of missed tackles meant a second Newick try under the posts which was easily converted making the score 0-12.
Half time came and Heath realised they had to cut out the errors and change tactics to get themselves back in the match. From the restart Heath were committed to fast accurate passing rugby and soon got themselves a try, much to the delight of the home supporters - a step in the right direction, 5-12. Newick were quickly awarded a penalty and much to the disappointment of Heath chose to kick it and take the scoreline back to 5-15.
So Heath had to reclaim control the hard way. Great support, quick hands, breaking tackles, recycling - and Heath scored and although the conversion was missed the scoreline crept back to 15-10. And Heath was not finished yet – a big Heath scrum, big push, ball secured, quick hands and an amazing dive into the wet turf just to the side of the posts took the scores to 15-15.
It was a relatively easy kick but the pitch conditions made underfoot conditions treacherous and sadly it was missed. Newick sent the restart deep and RAMS starting the long slog up the field. Heath were awarded a penalty but there was no time to kick for touch so in the dying minutes came arguably the best passage of play. Ruck followed maul, maul followed ruck and the phases started to add up. Six...seven....eight...half way line....nine...ten...10m line....eleven...twelve....half way....thirteen...more pick and go’s, the backs admiring the hard work....the crowd really giving it their all in support ....sixteen phases took Heath inside Newick’s 22....then the RAMS spotted a small gap next to the touch line and went for it but was bundled into touch ending proceedings and Heath’s hope of securing the much-needed win. So Heath had fought back for a respectable draw but the result damages Heath 2nd XV promotion aspirations.
Next weekend the Heath RAMS are back in action against Shoreham at home and the Heath 1st XV have the match that must be won if the squad is to have any hope of winning the Sussex Spitfire 1 league this season – at home against local rivals Lewes. Both matches kick off at 2.30pm and all support welcome.
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