After a fairly lousy morning, the afternoon brightened up to welcome Heath to The Avenue for the 3rd league instalment of the season for the men in green. Heath Kicked off playing towards the river on the back pitch and the ball was caught cleanly (and quite surprisingly) by second row Jim Bowers and set the home side on the attack. After several phases of play, Heath gave a penalty away and the ball was kicked to the corner. From the resulting lineout drive, it was Bowers who claimed the touchdown. JD was wayward with the conversion. 5-0 to the hosts.
For most of the remainder of the first half of the first half, the game ebbed and flowed between the two sides as they both tried to take control of the contest. Heath had a good looking side and a potentially powerful pack but as the half wore on, the home side gained scrum dominance ably led by props Thomas Walker on his first run out of the season and Matt Birkett who has joined us from Keighley.
A scoring opportunity arose when pressure from Tom Eggleston on the wing charged a clearance kick down around Heath’s 22 line, but he had absolutely no idea where the ball went! It was fielded by Wharfedale and was spun out to the left but rusty handling let us down and Heath survived. Shortly afterwards, our second try was recorded after centre Scott Rogers powered his way to the line from the 22. JD was on target with the simple conversion, 12-0.
Heath then had the ball for a period and one attack gained good yards as No.8 Jack Kitching missed a tackle and had to be covered for by JD, which surprised a few onlookers. The attack was eventually thwarted and the ball turned over but unfortunately the ‘well summered’ Sam Arkwright gave an intercept pass which Heath gladly took to take the score to 12-7.
Wharfedale came straight back on the attack and sustained pressure caused one of the Heath forwards to earn himself a yellow card. The hosts failed to capitalise though and gave away a penalty of their own to relieve the pressure for Heath.
As the half progressed, it became increasingly loose and scrappy. Arkwright was yellow carded for a late challenge, Rogers came off with a niggle to be replaced in the centre by veteran and world record holder for the consumption of strapping tape, Andy Hodgson. Heath capitalised on the period of play by taking the lead with a kick chase ¾ the length of the paddock. Simple conversion, 12-14.
Wharfedale came straight back into the Heath half to try and regain the lead. A penalty was given away which Kitching tapped quickly and nearly crossed himself. Another penalty was awarded and the scrum option taken. Heath were shunted over their own line and Dave Hickling at scrum half dabbed the ball down. 17-14.
After the restart, Wharfedale were straight back on the attack looking to close out the half with another score. Full back Arkwright and similarly solid winger Joe Moorhouse, took the ball well up into Heath’s half. The ball was recycled and out to JD at 10 who fed a bullocking Eddie Keighley who powered all the way to the try line. JD nudged the extras for a 24-12 half time lead.
Wharfedale started the second half brightly and played their best rugby of the match for the opening quarter. Keighley, looking full of running (until later in the half when he went off to loose his guts in the changing room), went close again, the ball was recycled well and Hodgson crashed over by the posts. JD added the extras, 31-14.
Heath then took the play deep into the home side’s 22 in this entertaining contest. The men in green managed a turn over and the ball was passed out to JD to clear the lines but a bit of confusion and good pressure by Heath put pay to this, but after a twist and a turn or two, the welsh veteran broke clear of the defenders and passed the ball to the supporting Thomas Walker who rumbled play up to the half way. Play continued into the Heath half and Sam Mason, now playing at scrum half, neatly offloaded to Hickling for his second try. JD on target, 38-14.
This was followed up by another score, this time by Arkwright after an overlap was utilised on the right hand side. He cut back towards the posts to assist JD with the conversion attempt, yet he still missed it! 43-14 Wharfedale then extended their tally past the half century as Bowers capatalised on tiring legs and burst out the back of a ruck to run in unopposed. 50-14.
Heath then had other ideas and came back with two well taken tries of their own to take the score to 50-26 but Wharfedale regained their composure and control of the match to round of a very pleasing win with a try for replacement winger Edd Walker.
Final score: – Wharfedale Dev XV 55-26 Heath 2nd XV.
1. Matt Birkett
2. Tom Carlisle
3. Thomas Walker
4. Jim Bowers
5. Josh Clay
6. Eddie Keighley
7. Charlie Lawn
8. Jack Kitching
9. Dave Hickling
10. Jonny Davies
11. Tom Eggleston
12. Scott Rogers
13. Sam Mason
14. Joe Moorhouse
15. Sam Arkwright
16. Paul Marklew
17. Tom Whitehead
18. Mark Tywang
19. Edd Walker
20. Andy Hodgson
Tries: _ Bowers (2), Hickling (2), Rogers, Keighley, Hodgson, Arkwright, Walker E,
Cons: – Davies (5)