With the inclement weather likely to be a leveller notwithstanding the league positions of the two teams Heath knew they would have to knuckle down if they were to take maximum points away at fellow promoted side Midhurst RFC.
Having observed a minute’s silence in the driving rain as a mark of respect to the victims of the previous night’s tragedy in Paris, the teams set about trying to get to grips with the challenging conditions. The entire game was played in strong winds and persistent rain meaning that the match was never going to be a treat of running rugby for the travelling spectators who had made the effort to brave the elements.
Heath dominated the early exchanges with their forwards quicker to the breakdown and, critically, having the better of the scrums of which unsurprisingly there were plenty given the slippery ball. After 10 minutes Heath managed to get on the scoreboard when, after kicking a penalty to touch in the corner, the Heath forwards won the ensuing line out and drove up to the Midhurst line where Josh Salisbury dived through the tacklers to score. Skipper Casey Calder hit the two points and Heath were 7-0 to the good.
The game evened out and Midhurst had some good attacking positions but were unable to get past the resolute Heath defence who were able to clear their lines with the wind behind them. With 5 minutes to the break Heath increased their lead following a drive down the middle and a disallowed score for Tom Burns.
From the scrum that followed 5 yards out from the opposition try line, the Heath pack put on a big surge meaning the ball popped out the side and Will Purdy , making a nuisance of himself in the back row, pounced to score under the sticks. Calder added the conversion making it 14-0 to the visitors as half time approached.
The score remained the same at the break as Heath turned round into the wind for the second half. Within 2 minutes of the restart fly half Peter Kerins made a break and put Calder into space between defenders which allowed the Kiwi to sprint in for another score to take Heath’s lead to a healthy 19-0. Heath were now starting to increase the pressure on the home side and within 5 minutes the bonus point was secured when Jack Lucas finished a counter attack started in Heath’s own half with the fourth try of the afternoon which was converted by Kerins for 26-0.
Midhurst fought back and after some possession and phases were awarded a penalty which they converted to leave the score at 26-3 with 20 minutes to play. However Heath eased up through the gears and put the game out of reach with further tries from Salisbury and Lucas the latter of which was converted by Best for 38-3 . The final try of the day was scored by front row Duncan Liddell finishing off some good work from the forwards when driving through the Midhurst defence from 15 metres out . Scrum half Hartley added the final two points to take the score to 45-3 .
A satisfying result for Heath in difficult conditions with the all-important bonus point bagged. Title rivals Lewes also won their game but for the second week running could not take the try bonus and are now a point behind Heath in the table. Next weekend sees Heath back at home with a fixture against Crowborough II when they will be hoping to consolidate their position at the top. Heath 2nd XV’s game was forfeited by the opposition who couldn’t get a team out so they took the win points and also remain top of their league.
Heath 1stXV Squad: Jack Bull; Joss Townsend (Paddy Sands-Renton); Duncan Liddell; Tom Burns; Nick Miller; Will Purdy (Wilf Bridges); Josh Salisbury; Hugh Erritt; Tim Hartley; Peter Kerins; Jamie Diggle (Roscoe Atkins); Casey Calder [Captain] (Jamie Diggle); Jack Lucas; James Wright; Jack Best.
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