Haywards Heath’s first fixture back after the Christmas break tough away trip to Old Alleynians in south east London.
Despite going down 33-19, Heath remain top of the table and have a four-point cushion over second-placed Old Colfeians
On a bracing afternoon, the home side started the brighter and their lively scrum half went over for a try only five minutes into the match.
Heath came back strongly after that score and were camped in the Old Alleynians half for five minutes.
Right wing Jamie Diggle bumped off a few tacklers to get in behind the defence then quick hands back to the opposite side saw Patrick McPherson feed James Flicker, who scored on 13 minutes.
This only seemed to stir the home side who had some abrasive runners in the back row who were making dents in the Heath defence.
On 20 minutes they crossed for try number two which was followed by two quick penalties to leave Heath trailing 16-7.
The home side continued to pile on the pressure even without the ball and they manged to affect a turnover after Heath had got into their 22 after a trademark scything run from Jack Lucas.
Against the run of play the hosts added another try and a further score left Heath staring down the barrel of a possible heavy defeat as they trailed 30-7 at the break.
Heath came out after the break all guns blazing with some strong ball carrying from prop Charles Newey, captain Sam Drage and second row Hugo McPherson.
A scrum on the left was followed by another strong burst by Lucas taking Heath within five metres of the try line and a quick pick up from Josh Salisbury saw him burst through the middle of the ruck to score underneath the posts. Lucas converted to take the score to 30-14.
For the next ten minutes, Heath battered away at the home defence who stood firm until they had a player put in the sin bin for a high tackle.
Dougie Kern, the replacement winger, made his mark in the second half with a nice running line that pierced the defence from where his acceleration took him to within five meters of the try line.
A smart passing exchange with the supporting Patrick McPherson saw Kern go over to finish the attacking move he started in his own half.
The home side settled their nerves with a further penalty on 68 minutes and despite Heath’s efforts to try to secure the bonus point try, the home defence stood firm.
Heath can take solace from the fact they kept Old Allleynians tryless in the second half while scoring two themselves, but ultimately they were undone by an overall spirited display from the home side who ran out 33-19 victors.
Results elsewhere mean Heath stay top of the London South East 2 with a four-point cushion despite this new year setback.
Haywards Heath welcome Dover for their first home fixture of 2020 on Saturday.