An away trip to Eltham in South London faced Heath in the latest round of LSE2 league fixtures with the squad looking to make amends after the previous week’s lacklustre home loss to Gravesend.
At 8-0 down after just five minutes things were not looking great for Heath as basic mistakes cost them dear. Colfes were quickly off the mark after an early lineout deep in the Heath 22 gave them a field position from which they worked an early try. This was followed a few minutes later by a break from deep which, coupled with some missed tackles, led to the visitors conceding a penalty on their own 22 which Colfes converted.
Heath, stung by conceding early, started to show their determination to take the game to the opposition and, after forcing a scrum in the Colfes 22, made ground through lock Hugo Macpherson and flanker Josh Salisbury, before skipper Sam Drage crashed through the defence to score under the posts. Jack Lucas, playing at fly half, kicked the extras to make the score 8-7 after only 10 minutes.
The inventive nature of Heath’s play seemed to distract Colfes from their own game and the home side were unable to cope with Heath putting the ball through the hands, with the front row of Liddell, Purdy and Newey all contributing with ball in hand to put Colfes on the back foot, and the centre partnership of Owen McLoughlin and Max Drage providing a steely edge to the midfield. It was in fact a burst of speed from Liddell down the middle of the park following a lineout turnover that gave Heath territory on 15 minutes. The ball was moved right to winger Jamie Diggle, playing his first game back after injury, who was eventually bought down but not held by the Colfes’ defence, allowing him to get up and stagger over the line with three defenders hanging off him for a try which saw Heath take the lead at 8-12.
Heath continued to control the game with their defensive set up snuffing out any threat from Colfes and their quick, instinctive rugby still baffling their opponents. With players rotating and Preston-Bell, Bridges and Doku arriving from the bench for Heath, there was no let-up in the high tempo for Colfes who nonetheless made it to half time without conceding again.
Heath were galvanised by the break and immediately attacked down the righthand side where an inside pass saw veteran winger Roscoe Atkins carve out a great line to outpace the defence and score under the sticks. Lucas converted giving Heath some daylight on the scoreboard at 8-19.
However, a failure to take the ball cleanly from the restart saw Heath concede a soft penalty that Colfes kicked for 11-19 giving the home side a glimmer of hope. Heath continued to take the game to Colfes and powerful running from number 8 Nick Main and second row Gareth Fergusson gave the Colfes defensive set up little respite and with man of the match Matt Ashley controlling everything from scrum half, the home side were struggling to exit their own half.
A good kick and chase from full back Charlie Best put Colfes in further trouble and Heath really should have scored from the ensuing 5 metre scrum – instead the home side secured possession and on a rare foray into the Heath half, Colfes won another penalty which was kicked for 14-19 and the game suddenly appeared in the balance despite Heath’s dominance.
However the match was put beyond doubt with a couple of minutes remaining after a quick tapped penalty by the alert Gareth Fergusson breached the first line of Colfes’ defence and a clever offload put Lucas in down the outside for the decisive and bonus point score. Lucas kicked the conversion to take his personal haul to 11 points and see Heath clear at 14-26.
A well-deserved victory against a side higher than them in the league sees Heath move up to fifth in the table.
More importantly the style of the performance and their first four try haul of the campaign provided Heath with a winning bonus point that sets them up nicely for the rest of the season, although there remains plenty to work on in training over the next few weeks and once again the coaches will be concerned at the penalty count. As we move into November next week’s home game against Maidstone will kick off at Whitemans Green at 2.30pm as Heath try to maintain the momentum derived from this confidence boosting win.
1st XV squad: Duncan Liddell; Will Purdy; Charles Newey; Gareth Fergusson; Hugo Macpherson; Sam Drage; Josh Salisbury; Nick Main; Matt Ashley; Jack Lucas; Jamie Diggle; Owen McLoughlin; Max Drage; Roscoe Atkins; Charlie Best; Harry Preston-Bell; Steve Doku; Wilf Bridges.