A drab Sunday morning, but a trip out of the county to play unknown opposition at Tunbridge Wells was enough to whet the boys’ appetites and lift their spirits.
It was also useful to experience a rare game away after a run of home games at Whitemans Green. As this was a friendly, it was agreed to play the game in three halves which allowed the coaches to play boys in various positions and ensure everyone got a share of game time.
Starting with virtually the same side that has played the last couple of games and playing up a fairly noticeable incline, the first period was a very even affair with Heath having to defend resolutely for the first ten minutes.
However, Heath then gradually began to shake the car journey out of their legs and enjoy some dominance and territory, which ultimately led to Kai Jutson crossing for the first score, which was converted by William Goodwin. Tunbridge Wells U16s were quick to respond with a score, straight through the middle, highlighting mis-communication amongst Heath that needed attention. This left two sides evenly matched at 7-7 after an entertaining first period.
The second period allowed the coaches to make a number of changes, with Heath now playing downhill. This period was one of almost total dominance for Heath with much better line speed in defence and more aggressive rucking. Heath were the beneficiaries of four tries with the first score going to Mitchell Day, followed by one for Oliver Owens and two for Thomas Wharton.
The pick of these came from Oli, normally a flanker and having a rare outing in the centre, who showed great skill, power and speed to run a try in from around the half way line. And so the period finished with Heath leading 7-27.
The final period saw more changes with Heath playing up the hill again, a challenge which didn’t cause Heath any issues initially as they immediately went on the offensive. However, a number of opportunities were wasted and it took some time before Heath were able to score again, courtesy of Thomas Wharton completing his hat trick. William Goodwin's conversion took the score out to 7-34 with only about 5 minutes remaining.
Unfortunately, Heath seemed to switch off at this point and allowed Tunbridge Wells to score two quick tries, the second an excellent score from their diminutive scrum half who showed excellent pace to run in from almost two thirds of the pitch. With one of these tries converted, this made the final score 19-34 which was probably a true reflection of the match.
This was an excellent performance and result for Heath U16s against strong opposition outside Sussex and away from home. Many of the performances have given the coaches the comfort of knowing that they have good depth in the squad and options throughout the team. Training next week will allow continued work on areas that require improvement and then the U16s finish the year with two important league games.