Heath started the second half of the season in style with both the 1st XV and the RAMS securing victories, kick starting 2019 and creating important momentum as the Club looks to push forward both on and off the field with their plans to build a new Clubhouse at Whitemans Green, supported by their main club sponsor Fairfax.
On the pitch Heath 1st XV had to soak up considerable pressure from Deal & Betteshanger in the first half, using their skill and determination to stop the home side from crossing the try line.
There were excellent performances throughout the squad, with Lucas and Menefy linking well to provide smart game management - an area the Heath coaching team had been working on recently. There was strong running from McLoughlin and Drage to gain momentum at critical points in the match, with Warwick, Kern and Best using their pace to make important breaks that got the team out of trouble and also created scoring opportunities.
Two tries came in the first half, the first from Salisbury with one of his speciality breaks around the ruck and the second from McLoughlin who took advantage of quick ball from the forwards after a procession of five rucks had created the opportunity to run in a well-worked try. Warwick converted both and it looked as if the 0-14 scoreline would hold until half time - however, Deal managed to score right on 40 minutes, ensuring the match stood at a tantalising 5-14 position as it resumed after the break.
Heath restarted strongly and scored almost immediately after a scintillating break from Charlie Best which originated on Heath’s 22m line. Link play with Kern, Warwick and McLoughlin meant that Heath were able to put daylight between the teams and although the conversion hit the post, the 5-19 scoreline was just reward for Heath’s initiative and patience on the pitch.
Heath kept pushing right to the end to try to secure an elusive bonus point. Turning over Deal on their line with 80mins gone, Heath’s offloading and exceptional support play saw them break all the way to Deal’s 22, however a chip kick went slightly astray and couldn’t be gathered so the final whistle blew ending a strong performance and terrific away win, giving an important boost to the Heath squad as the second half of the season starts in earnest.
Meanwhile Heath RAMS took on a determined Hastings & Bexhill side in arctic conditions at Whitemans Green. The RAMS were quickly out of the block, posting a 14-0 lead within three minutes and showing real enthusiasm and commitment. However, the visitors used their big front row and experienced pack to fight their way back into the game. With a mixture of experienced players, colts and new joiners, the RAMS kept the scoreboard ticking over despite huge pressure from Hastings & Bexhill.
It was not all one way traffic and the final score 43-5 may have flattered Heath, with Hastings & Bexhill having a lot of second half possession but coming up against a resolute RAMS defence that kept the opposition from converting opportunities into points.
This was an exceptionally entertaining game of rugby played in great spirit by two well-drilled sides and a few standout performances amongst the Heath ranks give the coaches food for thought before the next double header next weekend when Heath 1st XV play Aylesford Bulls alongside another RAMS fixture at Whitemans Green kick off for both is 2pm – all support welcome.
Heath RFC welcomes new members at any time so, whatever your standard, anyone wanting to act on that new year’s resolution and join an inclusive, growing senior rugby squad and benefit from the committed coaching skills of Ross Chisholm and James Taylor should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heath 1st XV squad: Charles Newey; Will Purdy; Greg Palmer; Hugo MacPherson; Gareth Fergusson; Max Drage; Josh Salisbury; Nick Main; Brett Menefy; Jack Lucas; Dougie Kern; Owain McLouglin; Robbie Fotheringham; Charlie Best; Henry Warwick; Martin McDonagh; Steve Doku; Jamie Diggle