Heath takes spoils in pre-season friendly with Burgess Hill

Heath front row Joss Townsend preparing to pick and go
Heath front row Joss Townsend preparing to pick and go

Burgess Hill entertained Heath in a final warm up match before the start of the new league season in an eagerly anticipated contest in front of a good sized crowd.

The sides were finalising plans for the new season and both were missing a number of first team regulars from the match day squads. Heath who had beaten Heathfield in their previous friendly will be playing in Sussex 1 this season whilst Hill will be starting the new season in London SE 3.

In a competitive game it was the home team who seized the early advantage and having attacked from the outset Burgess Hill scored an early unconverted try in the opening minutes. Heath weathered the storm and started to get a grip of the game with their forwards beginning to provide a platform from which they could dominate the territorial battle. After 15 minutes the match was all square with number 8 Sam Drage powering through to score.

Drage was on the score sheet again after 35 minutes as Heath continued to pin the Sussex All Blacks back in their own half and after a number of surging drives from the pack dived over the whitewash to make the score 10-5 to the visitors.

The score remained the same at half time although Heath were down to 14 men following a yellow card. Playing up the hill in the 2nd half Heath introduced a number of substitutes but quickly lost another man to the bin and their 13 men had to dig deep to keep a resurgent Hill at bay. Notwithstanding the numerical disadvantage Heath continued to attack through their wings and after 10 minutes of the second half after having the players back from the sin bin replacement centre Robbie Fotheringham went under the posts for Heath’s third try of the game. Casey Calder on debut for Heath put the conversion over to make it 17-5 to the visitors.

Burgess Hill emptied the bench and continued to take the game to Heath whose defence stood up well to the test . Hill couldn’t get any consistent time in the visitors 22 from which to get back on the scoreboard and it was Heath winger Jamie Diggle who capped an impressive performance with the final try of the game to take the score t o 22-5.

Heath veteran scrum half Alex Meredith tackles former Heath player Dave Wattam

Heath veteran scrum half Alex Meredith tackles former Heath player Dave Wattam

Both sides continued to look for opportunities to score but the defences held firm and at the final whistle the score remained 22-5 in what was a competitive and entertaining encounter from which each team will have learned a lot as they prepare for their respective league campaigns.

Next Saturday Heath play their first league game at home to Crawley with a 3pm kick off.

Burgess Hill’s contributed report appears in this week’s Mid Sussex Times

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Heath scrum driving towards the Hill try line

Heath scrum driving towards the Hill try line

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