Heath RFC march on despite the mud
League leaders Heath faced bottom of the table Maidstone in this latest round of London South East 2 games in a contest that appeared a mismatch on league standings.
However constant rain during the week leading up to the fixture meant, like many others around the country, the game had to pass an early morning inspection to get the go ahead. As a result underfoot conditions were atrocious and the teams were going to have to battle it out in deep ground.
A lively crowd were in attendance many of whom had filled the clubhouse to capacity beforehand for the Bonkers lunch to hear updates on the new Heath clubhouse fundraising and timings following the sign off of the final detailed plans by the Rugby Football Foundation.
Given how wet the pitch was this was always going to be an old-fashioned arm wrestle and so it proved. Heath were constantly in possession and trying to break down the Maidstone defence but unable to execute their game plan or build up a head of steam. The visitors weathered the early storm and settled into a long and determined defensive shift holding the red and black attackers at bay. It wasn’t until nearly 20 minutes into the first half that Heath were able to get on the board when following a series of repeated phases of possession took them deep into Maidstone territory, a further pick and go by the forwards saw them drive open side flanker Josh Salisbury over the line for 5-0.
The game continued in much the same vein with Heath using quick ball to try and move the play wide, going through hands while often cutting through the Maidstone defence, but ultimately losing possession with an off load too far or a handling error in the mud. Maidstone were clinging on by their proverbial fingernails at times but cling on they did until the half time break when it remained 5-0.
Playing down the slope but into the wettest areas of the pitch, Heath continued where they had left off, playing some beautiful rugby at times but not executing the final pass accurately enough to get the score. Playing old fashioned rugby is not the style of this Heath team but a more pragmatic approach on the day may have reaped more benefit given the playing conditions both sides faced. It was with only a quarter of the match remaining that Heath managed to extend their lead with a further set of phases by the pack allowing Salisbury to bag his second try of the afternoon for 10-0.
Maidstone had their moments of pressure and managed to visit the Heath 22 on a couple of occasions but could not find a way through the home defence. With around ten minutes remaining some great ball retention from the Heath pack and quick hands from the backs saw space created on the left for Dougie Kern to go in for a further score and 15-0. Heath desperately sought out the fourth bonus point try but continued to play too much rugby given the conditions and weren’t able to get over the line again before the final whistle.
An element of disappointment in missing out on the bonus point was soon countered with updates from other matches in the LSE2 league meaning that Heath had extended their lead at the top of the table.
Heath RAMS faced a tough assignment away to league leaders Crawley. Whilst the RAMS were able to count on some old faces coming back from injury, the home side had too much fire power running out 51-0 winners.
After the game at Whitemans Green assistant coach Jim Taylor awarded the Players of the Month prizes for October. Charlie Best received a well-deserved 1st XV nomination for some fabulous recent performances and Jamie Dimelow accepted the RAMS award, his appearance in the 1st XV this weekend testimony to his strong recent performances for the RAMS - both were delighted to receive a bottle of Black Dog Hill Vineyard 2013 Classic Cuvee Sparkling English Wine.
Heath 1st XV squad: Charles Newey; Max Drage; Matt Cleary; Patrick McPherson; Steve Doku; Josh Salisbury; Sam Drage (capt); Gareth Fergusson ; Matt Ashley; Will Reeves-Perrin; James Flicker; Jack Lucas; Jamie Diggle; Dougie Kern; Charlie Best; Sam Beckett; Matt Holyland; Jamie Dimelow.