Haywards Heath Rams 15, East Grinstead II 7: Heath Rams win Sussex Vase

A happy Heath Rams squad after winning the Sussex Vase on Saturday
A happy Heath Rams squad after winning the Sussex Vase on Saturday

Heath Rams, with its usual blend of youth and experience ably skippered by young Chris Neill, faced an East Grinstead side who had already topped their league - the Eastern division of the same league as the Rams.

During the pre-match warm up, Heath's fly half, Callum MacCaulay, unfortunately picked up a back injury and had to be replaced by Will Reeves-Perrin.

After early sparring between two evenly matched teams, Heath won a penalty in front of the opposition posts which was duly converted by Henry Warwick; 3 - 0. Waves of long, penetrating runs by the eager Heath backs subsequently came to nothing within yards of the line until one was rewarded.

Heath Rams captain Chris Neill receiving the Sussex Vase from the Sussex RFU presentation party

Heath Rams captain Chris Neill receiving the Sussex Vase from the Sussex RFU presentation party

Quick ball from an attacking ruck only 10 metres from the opposition goal line went through two pairs of hands to second row Karl Baxter who made a simple touch down out wide. Although the conversion was missed, Heath were now in front 8 - 0. But a lapse of concentration by the Rams soon saw East Grinstead score in the opposite corner.

A well taken conversion meant that only 1 point separated the two sides at half time, 8-7 to Heath Rams.

Substitutions now being made, both sides continued to probe, territory and possession swinging to and fro as each team briefly held the ascendancy. But after a sustained period of Heath pressure, the ball found its way to Henry Warwick, who had seared in from full back to exploit an overlap on the left; he crossed in the corner and added the extra points from a difficult angle. At 15-7 to Heath, and with East Grinstead now needing to score twice, the Rams defended stubbornly while continuing to pressurise their opponents for the last 10 minutes.

Whilst the heat had exhausted both teams by the final whistle, Heath rued the fact that better handling and support might have made their win more comfortable with additional tries being scored. To many of Heath's supporters enjoying the sunshine, Patrick Sandys-Renton gave a man of the match performance, although every man played a significant part. What was pleasing to see was positive, attacking play by the Rams for the entire duration, all played in the usual good spirit which continued into the post-match celebrations.

Heath Rams squad: Karl Wicking; Simon Vavasour; Patrick Sandys-Renton; Mark Devlin; Karl Baxter; Henry Dickson; Charles Newey: Chris Neill (C); Jack Vavasour; Will Reeves-Perrin; Tim Salisbury; Harry Sandercock; Tyler Edwards; Alisdair Fraser; Henry Warwick. Subs (all used) George Oliver; David Funnell; William Bower: Will Haworth; Tony Gregory; Ed Hill.

Heath Rams celebrating a 15-7 victory in the final

Heath Rams celebrating a 15-7 victory in the final