The Festival of Rugby at Haywards Heath Rugby Club kicked off early as the Heath minis completed a sponsored Big Club Run around Whitemans Green, followed by the Heath U16s competing against Horsham and tourist sides from Leicester Forest and Ashby.
There was a celebratory feel to the day whatever the results as rugby returned for the new season.
Heath Colts battled bravely against a strong colts side from Farnham, Heath RAMS went down fighting to a well-drilled Farnham 2nd XV, leaving Heath 1st XV to fly the black and red flag and secure a convincing 21-5 victory over their Surrey counterparts who feature in London 2 South West and last year made the play-offs for promotion.
Overall Heath were proud of the achievements of all players so early in the season and it was clear that pre-season training has led to fit and healthy squads, raring to go as Heath go into battle in both London 2 South East and Sussex 1 this coming season.
Heath took every opportunity that came their way against Farnham, scoring a great converted try after just five minutes to put the first points on the board at 7-0. A period of intense Farnham attack and strong Heath defence followed, broken only by a fantastic break from Jack Lucas who sprinted almost the full length of the pitch, evading a last gasp tackle from Farnham’s overcommitted full back, to score under the posts.
A conversion made the score 14-0 and a further period of Farnham pressure followed in the run in to half time. In previous seasons Heath’s defensive line might have broken given the ferocity of the attack, but this Heath side worked hard for each other and managed to prevent Farnham breaking through – half time arrived with the score at 14-0 to Heath.
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After dominating territory for so long, Farnham restarted with determination and took advantage of a momentary loss of concentration to put their first points on the scoreboard. The conversion drifted wide and with the score at 14-5 battle recommenced much in the same vein as the first half with Heath defending strongly amid regular turnovers for both sides.
And so the score remained with both squads fully utilising their replacements until another breakaway from Heath, this time by flanker Josh Salisbury, led to a third Heath try which was again converted by Henry Warwick for a 21-5 scoreline.
Despite a number of scoring opportunities for both sides, this is how the score remained at the full time whistle and, in the bright late summer sunshine, Heath 1st XV was able to celebrate a well-earned home victory.
The festivities at Heath continued with all sides celebrating a successful day of rugby with a barbecue and live music while fund raising for a new HHRFC Clubhouse at Whitemans Green.
And with hundreds of Heath minis and juniors back at rugby on Sunday to start a new season, the momentum is building to ensure the club can take advantage of the current once in a lifetime opportunity to improve facilities for all in Mid Sussex offered by their Main Club Sponsor, Fairfax and its education foundation, Fairfax Building Young Futures.
New members of all ages and abilities are welcome to come and play rugby at Heath – contact email@example.com or visit the club website at www.hhrfc.co.uk for more information.