Away at Crawley RFC, Heath U16s kicked off into the strong wind brought by Storm Freya and were immediately on the offensive.
However, Crawley’s defence was impressive and held firm against waves of Heath attacking plays. Heath’s offensive dominance and Crawley’s imposing defence was a reflection of the entire game, with Heath having to work very hard to create scoring opportunities against a resolute opponent on home territory. After 10 minutes it looked like Heath number 8, Bobby Collins, had been able to unlock the Crawley defence, but unfortunately he knocked-on in the act of scoring.
However, it only took a further five minutes for Heath’s regular opening try scorer, Liam Macaulay, to step his way through the Crawley defence for the opening score. Whilst the conversion was missed, this opening try helped to settle the Heath U16s, who had begun to show signs of impatience.
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With about 20 minutes gone, Crawley had a rare foray into the Heath half. However, the ball found its way into the hands of the Heath full back, William Goodwin, who from about the Heath 10 yard line showed superb pace and balance to skirt around the Crawley defence, whilst carefully avoiding the touchline for a significant part of his run, to score an excellent solo try under the posts. Goodwin duly converted to take the score out to 0-12. A few minutes later, Macauley was able to work his way over from close range for his second try. The conversion in a swirling wind was missed and so the score remained at 0-19, which is how it stayed until half time.
The coaches made seven changes at the break to give the entire squad some game time. With the strong wind now behind them, Heath were hopeful of a quick score to secure the bonus point however, good Crawley defence and Heath errors in increasingly challenging conditions meant it took some time before Heath were able to secure the next try. This came after a clever cross kick from the Heath 10, Christian Streater, behind the onrushing Crawley defence, with the Heath 13, Oliver Owens winning the foot race to dive on the ball as it rolled over the line. The conversion from out wide was missed and the score remained at 0-22.
This fourth score and a reasonable margin between the two teams appeared to relax the Heath side and, with some wonderful handling via a number of pairs of hands, Barney Scott, found himself outflanking the Crawley defence and his excellent pace meant he was able to squeeze in at the corner to take the score to 0-27.
With about 10 minutes left, the Heath prop, Daniel Grant, was able to crash over from short range for the sixth and final try, which was converted by Goodwin for a final score of 0-34 to Heath. Unfortunately, before the final whistle, ill-discipline from both sides led to a red card for a Crawley player and a yellow card for a Heath player. This was a shame as, up to this point, it had been a hard fought game, played in a good spirit by both.
Considering the difficult weather conditions, this was a good performance from Heath U16s, who had to work hard for their scores and find ways to unlock a well drilled opposition defence.
Man of the Match went to the Heath hooker, Alfie Bedford, for his fearless play when dropping on a number of loose balls and his overall strong performance in rucks and mauls.
Next week sees Heath U16s play their final home league game against Pulborough, as they seek to maintain their undefeated league record this season.