After a week’s break Heath were on the road as they faced a long away trip to Dover looking for their fourth win on the bounce to maintain the momentum at the Club in 2019.
With the RAMs away at East Grinstead it was an important weekend for Heath to lay down a marker for the rest of the season and neither one of the senior sides disappointed.
At Dover, the big home pack was nullified by Heath from the off and the pattern of the game was immediately set as Heath played at tempo but in a measured way to put their opponents under pressure. After an initial 10 minutes when Heath might have scored from a maul close to the Dover line the first score arrived. A dummy and go from second row Hugo McPherson on the halfway line made the initial line break to set winger Charlie Best away. Best drew the covering defence and fizzed an inside pass to the supporting Robbie Fotheringham to touch down. Henry Warwick calmly added the conversion for a 0-7 lead.
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Whilst Dover tried to react they soon found themselves back in their own half with Heath probing for another score. From a breakdown wide left, Heath went open where returning skipper Sam Drage trucked the ball up in the midfield and then it was moved swiftly wide right to the waiting McPherson who beat the cover and scored in the corner. Warwick’s conversion from out wide was pin point accurate and Heath were 0-14 to the good.
Heath continued to have the territory and the possession and it was a measure of their confidence that they turned down a number of kickable penalty opportunities to seek out a further try. The Dover defensive shift and a tendency to try to play too much rugby meant Heath couldn’t get back over their opponent’s whitewash and led to them taking the points from a penalty five minutes before half time. Warwick stepped up with the kick for 0-17.
Dover reclaimed from the restart and had their only real spell of possession in the game. The home side hammered away at the Heath try line and despite penalties and scrums five metres out, the well organised red and black defensive line held firm to the break.
The second half was more of the same. Heath were quicker to, and stronger at, the breakdown with the entire pack being rotated during the game and also had the ascendancy in the lineouts which were functioning well. Despite the dominance, a lack of control or inaccurate passing in the red zone prevented a further score coming until the beginning of the final quarter of the game.
Heath possession wide right saw Max Drage capping his Man of the Match performance at hooker with a jinking run and offload to Patrick McPherson who, not to be outdone by his brother, outpaced the defence to score for a 0-22 lead.
The score seemed to break Dover and almost immediately Heath were in again. This time it was winger Jamie Diggle who was the instigator, setting off from inside his own half he beat the cover before offloading to the supporting Warwick who in turn shipped the ball on to Owen McLoughlin to outpace the defence and crash through a despairing tackle to score the bonus point try. Extras from Warwick made it 0-29 with 10 minutes remaining.
Those last 10 minutes were played without any drama for Heath as their vice like control of the game continued. Two more try score opportunities went begging as all the rugby continued to be played in the Dover half until the final whistle. This was Dover’s heaviest home defeat of the season and the first time they had lost to nil. For Heath this was back to back clean sheets and, more importantly, another bonus point win on the road showing that the effort at training is really kicking in. A 0-29 score line was highly impressive on what can often be a tricky away trip but the wide margin did not flatter Heath in any way and once again a number of scoring opportunities were left on the pitch leaving something for the coaching team to work on.
Meanwhile the RAMs were showing the strength in depth at the Club with a convincing win of their own away at East Grinstead. Another clean sheet saw them run out 36-0 victors with a great overall team performance. No rugby next week when the seniors will be cheering on England in the Heath Clubhouse in front of the big screen.
Heath 1st XV squad: Greg Palmer; Max Drage; Charles Newey; Gareth Fergusson; Hugo McPherson; Sam Drage (Captain); Josh Salisbury; Nick Main; Brett Menefy; Jack Lucas; Jamie Diggle; Owain McLoughlin; Robbie Fotheringham; Charlie Best ; Henry Warwick; Steve Doku; Patrick McPherson; Martin McDonagh