Haywards Heath RFC keep that winning feeling with victory over Thanet Wanderers
A month’s worth of rain in under a week and the longest away fixture of the league campaign could historically create the ideal scenario for Heath to suffer a shock defeat to lower table opposition but that was not the case this weekend as league leaders Heath travelled to Thanet Wanderers looking to consolidate their position at the top of London SE2.
Not even a 9.45am departure time on the coach from Whitemans Green could dampen the anticipation of the squad showing a number of changes to the side that had beaten Charlton Park two weeks earlier.
Thanet has traditionally been an abrasive team, particularly on their own patch, and this game was no exception with a number of feisty exchanges up front and in the backs as the game progressed.
Whilst Heath did at times allow themselves to be drawn into the home side’s attempts at over physicality, resulting in a number of yellow cards during the course of the game, it was clear from the outset that only one club had come to play rugby and Heath were quickly able to get the score board moving.
Expansive attacking rugby and a suffocating defence has served Heath well this season and Thanet were given a taste of both as Heath took command of the game with a James Flicker hat-trick of tries before half time, one of which was converted by Jack Lucas for 5-17 scoreline at the break.
The second half saw Heath put the game out of reach with three more tries including a fourth for winger James Flicker, making him the obvious candidate after a Man of the Match performance.
A crossfield kick from Lucas was taken by centre Jamie Diggle for a score and a show of pace from second row Patrick McPherson accounted for the sixth try of the day which with a conversion from Lucas put the icing on the cake.
A late Thanet score was to little too late meaning Heath had achieved a six try bonus point win on one of the tougher away fixtures of the season with a 12-34 victory.
So Heath 1st XV still top the LSE2 division despite their nearest rivals all continuing to pick up wins and stay very much in touch.
Next week sees Heath at home to another Kent side Maidstone who have been having a tough time but will be looking to kick-start their season at Whitemans Green.
Heath RAMS meanwhile faced a tough encounter against an experienced Burgess Hill side showing a couple of wise old heads who used to play their rugby at Heath a number of years back.
Conditions were truly appalling as the rain lashed down on an already sodden pitch.
The RAMS were the faster starters in this game and had good early pressure deep into the Burgess Hill 22 but were not clinical enough to take any points from the visit.
The game settled down and was quite competitive until Hill were awarded a penalty try for a shirt tug on the winger chasing a kick through for 0-7.
Two further well worked Hill tries attacking from deep at pace were good enough for 0-19 at the break.
Heath RAMS didn’t give up and kept battling and again spent time in the Hill 22 without securing any points on the scoreboard before Hill scored another.
RAMS finally gained their reward for enormous effort with a try for centre Wilf Bridges who crashed through from a quick tap penalty for a score but a final Hill try killed the game off for a final score of 5-29.
Heath RAMS competed well but lacked the game management of Hill in the difficult conditions and were actually guilty of trying to play too much rugby in endeavouring to pass in grim conditions rather than put boot to ball.
However given that Hill have been very competitive in Sussex 1 league for a number of seasons and this is the RAMS first season at this level, this was a performance that will give plenty of encouragement for the rest of the season.
Next week Heath RAMS face more local opposition in Crawley 1s away .
Heath 1st XV squad: Charlie Newey; Max Drage; Matt Cleary; Hugo McPherson; Patrick McPherson; Sam Drage(capt); Josh Salisbury; Gareth Fergusson; Matt Ashley; Will Reeves-Perrin; James Flicker; Jack Lucas; Jamie Diggle; Dougie Kern; Charlie Best; Martin McDonagh; Steve Doku; Charlie Milner