Heath 1st XV took on Maidstone on Saturday, both sides coming off the back of victories the previous week and looking to keep a winning run going.
The match kicked off with both sides working out the strengths of the other, a cagey game plan ensued that meant the match remained scoreless after 10 minutes although it was clear at an early stage that Heath would need to dig deep to deal with the physicality of the Maidstone pack.
Heath gradually started to dominate possession when, totally against the run of play, Maidstone scored a breakaway try which was converted to put the visitors ahead 0-7. Heath didn’t let their heads drop but instead pursued the restart with real intent, gaining territorial advantage and working their way towards the Maidstone try line.
One opportunity was all that Heath needed and Matt Ashley got the important breakthrough scoring a fabulous individual try on 15 minutes, with the conversion from Jack Lucas meaning that the scores were tied at 7-7.
It was already apparent that it was going to be a tight match and although Maidstone won a penalty which they kicked for 7-10, the sides continued to mirror each other with both receiving yellow cards, in fact Maidstone receiving two in the space of two minutes, and although the half ended with 14 man Heath against 13 man Maidstone, the visitors managed to secure a penalty, take the three points and extend their lead to 7-13 at the break.
The match resumed with neither side giving an inch and no movement on the scoreboard until 10 minutes in, with both sides restored to full complement, Heath’s talisman captain Sam Drage scored a try which was again converted by Lucas to put Heath in front for the first time by 14-13. Both sides played in the knowledge that any mistake would likely decide the outcome and although Maidstone won a penalty to put them back in front at 14-16, Heath kept their composure and continued to work hard for each other. This commitment allowed them to create a kickable penalty opportunity of their own which Henry Warwick stepped up and took, securing the three points for a 17-16 scoreline which gave the home supporters something to shout about as the full time whistle went.
Whilst Heath will be pleased with the win and the commitment and passion for the badge, the pattern of the game showed they struggled to impose their system of play, meaning that a game that they should have won by a few scores came down to a nail-biting one pointer.
There are no league fixtures next week with Heath’s next match an away trip to league leaders Beckenham on Saturday 17 November. The senior squad will be using the next two weeks to get ready for what is likely to be their hardest test of the season so far.
Heath 1st XV squad: C Best; J Diggle; M Drage; O McLoughlin; R Atkins; J Lucas; M Ashley; D Liddell; W Purdey; C Newey; G Fergusson; D Shotton; S Doku; J Salisbury; S Drage (Capt.), H Preston-Bell; H Warwick; B Menefy