Whitemans Green saw a bumper crowd for the first LSE2 home game of the season, swelled by the ranks of the Heath Under 12s who had attended the pre-match lunch as a precursor to being awarded their club ties as they make the leap from mini to junior players and continue on their rugby journey. They then formed a guard of honour for the 1st XV as they took to the pitch.
Heath welcomed Old Alleynians who had narrowly lost away at Hove last week but were looking to get their early season campaign back on track. Conditions were not ideal for rugby as the players faced an afternoon in blazing sunshine on a pitch that was very firm after the recent lack of rain, meaning both sides would be playing a fast game of rugby with fitness to the fore.
Heath started quickly with a break from Jack Lucas and strong support from the forwards sent Charlie Best bursting through a startled Old Alleynians’ defence for an early 5-0 lead. The game settled down with both sides having periods of pressure, but handling errors and turnovers from both teams interrupted any real continuity or pressure. It was Old Alleynians who were next on the scoreboard with a well worked try after some missed Heath tackles, giving the visitors the lead at 5-7 on the half hour. The final 10 minutes of the half saw Heath camped in the opposition 22 but, despite a series of penalties and an Old Alleynians’ yellow card, they could not convert the pressure into points of any sort and went in at the break behind the visitors.
Within the opening minutes of the second half, Old Alleynians extended their lead after a Heath infringement within kicking distance was converted for 5-10. There was no panic in the Heath ranks and from the restart they attacked up the right hand side where a kick through was collected on the bounce by full back Henry Warwick who stepped back inside for the try which he converted himself for 12-10.
Heath continued to take advantage of the momentum they had created and were quick to capitalise on possession, sweeping up into the opposition 22 where they looked likely to score but were stopped illegally. A quickly taken penalty was moved wide where Lucas was able to cut through for a try. Warwick added the extras for 19-10.
Old Alleynians now found themselves on the back foot after conceding the lead - going behind by more than a score in the space of just three minutes. Heath were not for letting up and despite the heat maintained their structure and continued to turn defence into attacking platforms. A quality kick chase by the Heath midfield forced a turnover deep in Old Alleynian territory and the ball was moved wide where hooker Max Drage took full advantage to score in the corner for 24-10 and secure the try bonus point.
Heath continued to play all their rugby and their fitness levels in the last 10 minutes was to prove decisive as they closed out the game. More attacking from deep and some accurate inter-passing saw Lucas go in for his second which was again converted by Warwick for 31-10. Lucas wasn’t finished and capped his Man of The Match performance with another try where he crashed through the tackle and outpaced the defence for his hattrick. Warwick was on hand to add the extra two points meaning at the final whistle it was a comprehensive 38-10 win for Heath.
Whilst there was a lot to like about the performance, particularly the discipline showed by Heath and the systems they executed, there is still a lot for the Heath coaches to work on as a number of other scoring opportunities were missed as Heath failed to be completely clinical in capitalising on all their chances in the opposition red zone. Next weekend sees Heath take a long away trip to Dover looking to continue their strong start to the season.
Heath RAMS faced a tough trip to face a big and experienced Hellingly team. Despite a strong showing particularly in the second half they went down on a difficult afternoon by 52-5.
Heath RFC welcomes new players of all ages and abilities at any time, so if you would like to maintain your fitness this autumn, or feel inspired to pick up your boots and return to grassroots rugby, find out more at hhrfc.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heath 1st XV squad: Martin McDonagh; Max Drage; Charles Newey; Steve Doku; Patrick McPherson; Sam Drage (capt); Josh Salisbury; Hugh Erritt; Charlie Best; Jack Lucas; Jamie Diggle; Owen McLoughlin; Matt Smith; Dougie Kerns; Henry Warwick; Joss Townsend; Jamie Dimelow; Jack Best