Heath beaten by clinical Horsham
After completely outplaying league leaders Beckenham two weeks earlier, Heath had high hopes of upsetting second placed Horsham in the Mid Sussex derby to keep their chances of a top four finish alive in the league as the season draws to a close.
Since this was also the semi-final of the Bob Rogers cup there was a little extra hanging on the result.
Whether it was the novelty of playing for the first time on the ATP, a few changes in personnel, or just a bad day at the office, for some reason Heath were strangely off colour and unable to reach the heights of recent performances.
The game was off to a bad start for Heath as within five minutes of kick off the Horsham three quarters had scythed through the Heath defence for a 7-0 lead. Heath worked themselves into the game and a break from flanker Josh Salisbury took them close to the Horsham line. A penalty slid wide leaving Heath nothing on the board for their pressure, with worse to follow as the home side hit back with a sucker punch score with a cross field kick being touched down and converted for 14-0.
SEE ALSO Haywards Heath-born rugby player signs pro contract with Northampton Saints | Haywards Heath U16s remain unbeaten to be crowned league champions | Two Sussex Skippers to take part in The Clipper Round the World Yacht RaceAlthough the powerful Horsham pack and their well-drilled backs were having the better of the action, Heath were back in the game on the half hour when a break from winger Dougie Kern was offloaded to supporting centre Casey Calder to dot down in the corner for 14-5.
Ill-discipline from Heath saw them concede a penalty for 17-5 and then compound the damage by not dealing adequately with the restart, allowing Horsham to win the put in at the scrum and then put the ball through the hands from first phase for another score and a 22-5 lead at the break.
A couple of positional changes at half time saw Heath line up slightly differently and this seemed to pay immediate dividends as the visitors started to go through a few phases and test the Horsham defence. A trademark Josh Salisbury pick and go through the middle of the ruck saw him dash over the line from 10 meters for a try, converted by Calder for 22 -12 and potentially game on.
Horsham had other ideas however, and clinically put the game to bed with a penalty and then a well worked try for 34 -12 and a four try bonus point.
Heath kept plugging away and from a tap penalty Owain Mcloughlin burst through down the right to pull the score back to 34-17. A bonus point of their own was beyond Heath and Horsham put the game to bed with 5 minutes remaining with their fifth try converted for 41-17.
With a little more composure and less handling errors Heath could have made this a closer affair, but in fairness to Horsham the better side on the day won meaning they keep up their hunt for promotion. Heath on the other hand need to regroup and make a big statement at their final home game of the season against Thanet Wanderers at Whitemans Green next weekend.
Heath 1st XV squad: Matt Monahan; Will Purdy; Dean Garry; Owain Mcloughlin; Gareth Fergusson (Captain); Max Drage; Josh Salisbury; Nick Main; Brett Menefy; Jack Lucas; Jamie Diggle; Casey Calder; Robbie Fotheringham; Dougie Kern; Henry Warwick; Charles Newey; Harry Preston-Bell; James Flicker