Heath Junior Rugby, sponsored by Besana, has strength and depth in the U13 age group allowing the Club to enter two teams in the Sussex Waterfall leagues this season, ensuring match experience for the majority of a large and enthusiastic squad, by Brian Nimmo and Rob Bravo.
After some excellent early season preparation the A team travelled to Hove and the B team to Hastings and Bexhill to start their campaigns on a glorious autumn Sunday morning.
Heath U13Bs were up against the Hastings and Bexhill A team who were a very well drilled outfit especially at the breakdown. This strength meant they were able to steal a lot of Heath ball. Hastings started strongly scoring two quick tries through a simple but well executed game plan, driving up the middle and the Heath defence initially struggled to cope with the Hastings & Bexhill big runners coming straight at them. Once Heath were able to keep more ball, they were able to bring their game plan to the fore by winning quick ball and using their superior speed out wide. Heath gradually got back into the game to level the score at 10-10 only to concede another try just as they got back onto even terms. But as the game wore on and all Heath’s players were rotated to give all 18 squad players equal game time, Heath’s fitness and well drilled attack slowly began to dominate, with gaps beginning to open up in the Hastings defence both through the middle and out wide. In the last quarter Heath were able to pull away with some excellent tries from free flowing attacking rugby.
The final score was 40-25 to Heath U13Bs with Hastings & Bexhill playing well to provide entertainment for all the watching spectators supporting both teams.
Based on previous encounters at Hove, there was always a risk of fireworks for the Under 13As and true to form the match did not disappoint. Heath as reigning Sussex champions knew that they were a highly prized scalp and Hove, bolstered by a raft of new players, were hungry and confident that they could deliver an early season shock to Heath. Up against a much larger side Heath took some time to adjust to both the physicality and the larger pitch dimensions and, despite showing glimpses of their customary flowing, expansive rugby, Heath found themselves tied at half time 10 points all, conceding two tries to a highly motivated Hove team desperate take the honors on the day.
However, after the half time break during which the boys showed great character in recognising the need to adjust their game plan, the second half began in much brighter fashion with Heath starting to exert their dominance in both execution and energy. As the Hove side began to tire the Heath boys, aided by some smart substitutions, ran in an unanswered tally of six tries before Hove managed a final consolation score. The final score of 40-15 to Heath was a satisfying result and a real squad effort but served as valuable reminder to this talented group that there is no room for complacency in Sussex this year. Heath U13As look forward to their next Waterfall fixture against Chichester in early December.
There was excellent sportsmanship all round for both squads with great camaraderie within and between the teams and both will take great heart from their first league games as juniors.