Heath Colts win extends unbeaten league run
A dull and miserable day at Crowborough for this penultimate, important league encounter, with the Heath Hawks looking to maintain their 100% league record.
The pitch was heavy and sand covered in a number of areas, but was in a reasonable condition considering all of the recent rain.
Heath were a little depleted with both injuries and unavailability but with a motivated squad, it soon became evident that this was not going to affect the outcome.
The opening ten minutes were fairly even with both sides threatening.
However, Crowborough then suffered a couple of early injuries and without any replacements, they were reduced to 13 men.
Consequently, Heath had to also drop a player to comply with league regulations and influential winger, Matt Cains, volunteered to leave the field. Heath were now starting to dominate possession and territory.
However, a number of scoring opportunities passed by frustratingly untapped until with 20 minutes played, Heath fly half, Will Goodwin, spotted a gap and from short distance was able to sprint through to score under the posts.
He converted his own try to put Heath ahead at 0-7.
It then became a little difficult to accurately follow the subsequent comings and goings with Crowborough at various points during the game being reduced to 12 and then 11 players through further injuries, with Heath having to take off players to match the onfield situation with 13 and 12, respectively.
Crowborough were able to return a couple of players during the game, which meant that Heath could increase their compliment to 13 and then to 14, which is how Heath finished the game. The situation made it challenging for the Heath coaches to ensure that all of their squad were getting equal game time.
As far as the rugby was concerned, the various changes on the pitch wasn’t helping the Heath players to maintain focus and scoring opportunities were missed.
However, with virtually the last play of the half, Will Goodwin again spotted a gap from close range and again used his pace to score out wide.
With the tricky conversion missed, the half time score remained 0-12 to Heath.
The second half continued in a similar way to the first, although Crowborough were starting to look far more threatening and were frequently asking questions of the Heath defence.
With about 15 minutes of the second half played, Will Goodwin took an inside pass in the Crowborough 22 to race in under the Crowborough posts to complete his hat trick.
He again converted his try to give Heath some breathing space at 0-19.
Heath then had to do a further period of defending although a penalty allowed them to kick into the corner of the Crowborough 22 and from the resulting driving play, new signing Anton Smith was able to use his size and power to drive over the Crowborough line from about ten metres out, despite the close attention of a number of Crowborough players, for the bonus point try.
The conversion was missed, but at 0-24, and with about 15 minutes left, it was looking promising for Heath.
In fairness to Crowborough, they dominated large parts of the remaining period and if not for some good defending by the likes of Tom Banks and Tom Roberts, they would have scored.
Credit to Heath that they were able to keep their try line intact during this period and were ultimately able to see the game out without conceding any points and man of the match went to half back Evan Herbert for his exceptional service and kicking from hand.
Although not a vintage performance by Heath, it was difficult to maintain focus with so much player upheaval so securing the bonus point win was a good outcome and sets up a league title shoot out against currently unbeaten Eastbourne on 15 March at Whitemans Green.
Next week sees the Hawks on the road again for a friendly against Cranbrook and then they finally get the opportunity to play at home again, conditions permitting, in what will no doubt be a stern test, against Bognor in the quarter final of the Sussex Cup.