Strong performance gives Heath RFC away win at Deal
After defeat at Old Alleynians and postponement of the Dover game due to a waterlogged pitch at Whitemans Green, Heath’s eight point top of the table lead at the end of the year had vanished and they were sitting in second place in London LSE2 as they took the long coach trip to Deal & Betteshanger.
Heath, who were starting the game with a much changed line up, were intent on putting their season back on target and were quick to take the lead with a Henry Warwick penalty for 0-3. In a cagey first half both teams were pragmatically taking the points on offer from opposition penalties and on 20 minutes the lead had flip flopped with Deal in the ascendancy at 9-6, with Heath’s further points coming from another Warwick penalty.
On 22 minutes a scrum penalty awarded to Heath saw a quick thinking tap from scrum half Matt Ashley which put Owain McLoughlin in for the score. Warwick converted for 9-13. The game was tightly fought for the remainder of the half with the defences holding firm and not conceding points. However, straight after the break Deal were back in touch with another penalty for 12-13.
Heath’s reaction was to step up a gear and the ensuing pressure appeared to have put the game to bed as they moved beyond a score clear. A quick tap moved wide to Jack Lucas was recycled and the willing Hugo McPherson galloped in under the posts for a try. Warwick added the extras for 12-20.
It proved to be a period of Heath ill discipline that undid the good work and allowed Deal right back into the contest. A penalty for blocking was kicked by the home side for 15-20, followed shortly by another penalty for not retreating 10 metres from a penalty for 18-20. When Deal slotted yet another penalty from a Heath infringement to take the lead at 21-20, things were not looking good for the Sussex side, even though they had not allowed the opposition over their try line .
To their credit, Heath regrouped and pushed again and were rewarded with some great phases of play and strong carries in midfield taking them into the opposition red zone. From here open side flanker Josh Salisbury picked up and went straight through the centre of a ruck for the score. The metronomic Warwick added the conversion for 21-27 to swing the pendulum back in Heath’s favour with just 10 minutes remaining.
The Heath defence continued to hunt down the opposition and the pressure earned them a further penalty which Warwick kicked to take his personal tally to 15 points and the score to 21-30. A penalty in the final minute saw Deal salvage a losing bonus point at the final whistle with a final score of 24-30.
Not a vintage performance from Heath but a battling one which keeps them in touch with league leaders Old Colfeians who they play next weekend at Whitemans Green.
Heath Rams had a home game against Barnes Green which was a competitive affair notwithstanding a 0-25 score line and was a good effort from a team showing another big change in personnel.
Heath 1stXV squad: Charlie Newey; Matt Holyland; Sam Beckett; Hugo McPherson; Patrick McPherson; Jamie Dimelow; Josh Salisbury; Sam Drage (capt); Matt Ashley; Jack Lucas; Wilf Bridges; Owain McLoughlin; James Flicker; Brett Menefy; Henry Warwick; Martin McDonagh; Duncan Liddell; Ali Fraser.