Haywards Heath 1st XV ran out onto the pitch with confidence on Saturday looking to build on an honourable draw against Dover last time out and put their league campaign back on track.
However they were up against a determined Gravesend side who were sitting alongside Heath in the London & South East 2 league and themselves looking to push on in their 2018/19 quest for league success.
Heath did themselves no favours by giving away two early penalties which Gravesend converted into an early 0-6 lead – giving the opposition a headstart which would ultimately prove to be the difference between the sides.
Despite a difficult start, Heath regrouped and some strong forward play saw them creep into the visitors’ 22, however handling errors let them down at crucial times and Gravesend were able to clear their lines and take the game back to the Heath half.
And so continued this game with Heath working hard to create opportunities but finding it impossible to convert them into points.
In contrast with a Heath man sin binned, Gravesend took advantage of their numbers and managed to score a try just before half time meaning Heath faced a 0-11 deficit as they turned around for the second half.
The break appeared to galvanise both teams and Heath came out fighting with an early try from Max Drage giving them hope of a comeback.
Unfortunately this was matched almost immediately by a try from Gravesend and scoreboard pressure of 5-16 began to tell as Heath made a number of uncharacteristic errors as they fought both the opposition and the clock in their attempt to get back on track.
Heath’s resilience and fight did see them claw back another try as Roscoe Atkins showed his strength and pace to go over in the corner and the conversion was expertly added to make the score 12-16.
The spirited Heath supporters were trying to make the difference but a memorable comeback was not to be and, despite the efforts of a determined Heath squad, Gravesend held their defences strong and ran out deserved winners at 12-16.
Heath RAMs were meanwhile putting in another committed performance to win 48-27 in a high scoring game against Heathfield & Waldron 2.
Next week sees Heath 1st XV away against Old Colfeians for what will be another tight game against a team sitting second in the LSE2 league. Heath RAMS are also away against Bognor 2.
Heath 1st XV squad: Charlie Best; Henry Warwick; Max Drage; Jack Lucas; Roscoe Atkins; Robbie Fotheringham; Matt Ashley; Greg Palmer; Wilf Bridges; Charles Newey; Gareth Fergusson; Hugo Macpherson; Owain McLoughlin; Josh Salisbury; Sam Drage (Capt); Martin McDonagh; Steve Doku; Brett Menefy