Heath 1st XV kept its winning run in the London & South East 2 league going on Saturday with a plucky hard-earned away victory at Gravesend.
In chilly and wet conditions both sides started strongly with Heath piling on the pressure in the Gravesend 22 while the home side resisted any attempts to score. Roles then switched and it was Heath's turn to put in a defensive shift as the sides sitting fifth and sixth in the league tested each other out.
Heath had the majority of the scoring opportunities but failed to capitalise on early pressure and a Heath yellow card on 15 minutes meant discipline and patience was required until a full complement was restored on the pitch.
Half an hour in a Heath penalty was converted by Casey Calder giving the visitors a slender 0-3 lead and just reward for a strong showing against a determined Gravesend side. Further penalties to Heath went unrewarded and the Heath pack was have to cope with disrupted play and off the ball incidents that made fast flowing rugby difficult to play.
Their patience was rewarded when a clever interception allowed Patrick McPherson to sneak in and score the first try of the game. In tricky conditions the conversion was missed but a 0-8 scoreline gave Heath renewed confidence that their perseverance would pay off.
Heath lost a key front row player to serious injury and the resulting disruption allowed Gravesend to score as the clock ticked towards half time. With the conversion secured by the home side, the match was hanging in the balance at half time with the visitors just ahead at 7-8.
As play resumed Heath lost concentration which had been such a strong aspect of their game in the first half and the home side took advantage. Although the conversion was missed, Gravesend was able to take the lead for the first time at 12-8.
Heath regained their composure and took the game to their opponents, with Steve Doku emerging in the right place at the right time to score for Heath and with the extras secured by Calder, Heath's lead was restored at 12-15.
The game continued to ebb and flow and, although Heath missed out on a few points along the way, to a man the team kept their discipline throughout a very testing final quarter. A great run from Robbie Fotheringham and support play from Casey and Jamie Diggle was duly rewarded as Diggle scored to put much-needed daylight between the sides. A missed conversion proved to be inconsequential to the final result and Heath held strong to secure a much-deserved 12-20 win. Next weekend Heath will be looking to continue their winning streak as they play Old Colfeians at Whitemans Green in what is expected to be another tight contest against a side sitting one place above them in the league. Kick off is 2.30pm – all support welcome.
Heath 1st XV squad: Charles Newey, Max Drage, Greg Palmer, Gareth Fergusson, Patrick McPherson, Steve Doku, Josh Sailsbury, Sam Drage, Brett Menefy, Jack Lucas, Charlie Best, Jamie Diggle, Robbie Fotheringham, Dougie Kern, Casey Calder, Martin McDonagh, Harry Preston-Bell, Nick Main