Glorious spring sunshine and perfect underfoot conditions at Whitemans Green were the order of the day at Heath’s final home game of the season as they faced Thanet Wanderers in what looked likely on paper to be a tough fixture.
Fifth place Heath were looking to put things right after the previous week’s uncharacteristically lacklustre display against Horsham, although Thanet had their eyes on a fifth straight league win in a row, form which had moved them up to seventh place in London South East 2 Division.
What transpired was in fact very much one-way traffic with a confident Heath side scoring tries from all over the park and at times showing a sixth sense to put their supporting players into space.
The try fest was kicked off by a typical sniping run from Man of the Match Brett Menefy. The scrum half, who was a constant threat to Thanet throughout the afternoon, shot down the narrow side to touchdown an individual try for 5-0. On ten minutes the Heath backs cut loose and full back Casey Calder cut back in on the angle for the score which he then converted for 12-0.
Thanet recovered from this set back and started to play some rugby of their own but had little change from the suffocating Heath defence. A penalty chance came but slid wide for Thanet but they were eventually on the board with a more kickable penalty for 12-3 on 28 minutes.
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At this stage it looked as though the game could be a tight contest but Heath upped their game even further and put the contest to bed in a 10 minute spell before half time. First Calder went over again for his second try (17 -3) followed by second row Hugo McPherson outsprinting the defence for a try in the corner for 22-3 and the bonus point.
From the restart Heath were back for more, this time quick hands by the backs from deep in their own 22 after the forwards had secured fast ruck ball allowed Jack Lucas to break and put centre Robbie Fotheringham in for the try. Calder converted for a 29-3 lead at the interval.
There was no ease of the tempo in the second half as Heath continued to play champagne rugby wherever the field position. Calder danced through tackles to dive over for his hatrick and promptly handed over kicking duties to Lucas to knock over the conversion for 36-3.
An end to end move involving inter-passing from backs and forwards saw flanker Steve Doku bust a gut to get on the end of a scoring pass and outsprint the defence for 41-3.
Another attack from their own half saw a break from skipper Gareth Fergusson offload to McPherson, who again out-paced the defence but, not fancying a dive for the corner, flicked an inside pass to Jamie Diggle in the in-goal area to score under the posts. This time Fotheringham added the extras for 48-3.
There was no let up for Thanet who kept tackling but had no way of stopping the red and black tide and another incisive attack saw the ball moved to the left wing where James Flicker outstripped the cover to score his debut try for the senior team and a 53-3 scoreline.
Another darting break from the livewire Menefy opened up Thanet once again for McPherson to score his second of the day, converted by Fotheringham for 60-3.
The final try of the game came after more slick passing between backs and forwards opened up space for Max Drage to bounce his way through defenders and score a leisurely try in front of the cameras to record a highest score of the season for Heath and a 65-3 win.
Heath had been threatening to put this sort of score on a team all season and everything finally clicked, although to be hyper-critical they still managed to a leave a couple of tries on the pitch and missed some kicks but for which the final score could have made this close on 100 points. This was Heath’s biggest win this season with the impressive thing about the performance being the interaction between the forwards and backs with all players not only knowing their jobs but executing the basics and playing for each other. An outstanding show of rugby to put on for the large crowd of attentive sponsors, supporters and guests that had gathered at the Clubhouse.
Next week sees Heath’s final game of the campaign away at Charlton Park as they still try to edge their way up to fourth having made sure of fifth place with this latest bonus point win.
Heath 1st XV Squad: Matt Monahan; Max Drage; Charles Newey; Hugo McPherson; Gareth Fergusson (capt); Steve Doku; Josh Salisbury; Nick Main; Brett Menefy; Jack Lucas; Jamie Diggle; Owain McLoughlin; Robbie Fotheringham; Dougie Kern; Casey Calder; Will Purdy; Harry Preston-Bell; James Flicker