A bitingly cold November’s day saw Heath visit runaway league leaders Dartfordians who were unbeaten this season and likely to prove a tough nut to crack on their home turf.
The first 15 minutes was all Dartfordians who were 3 -0 up from a penalty after a couple of minutes and continued to throw everything at the Heath defence who already seemed to be on the wrong side of the referee. Just as Heath appeared to have weathered the storm and were applying their own pressure, a series of missed tackles allowed a 70 metre break out of defence by the home side which led to the first try. 8- 0 to Dartfordians.
Heath started to get a grip on the game and on the half pressure from the pack took them up to the Dartfordians line where Josh Salisbury was able to dive through to score and Peter Kerins converted making it 8-7. A Heath yellow card on the next attack from the home team was punished with a try in the corner for Dartfordians to make it 13-7 although a penalty just before the break by Henry Warwick clawed the score back to 13-10.
Heath, playing into the wind and up the hill in the second half, started to dominate possession and the pressure told with a penalty from Kerins to level the scores at 13 a piece. Heath continued to take the game to Dartfordians but a combination of the home side’s impressive tackling and defensive line speed, coupled with handling errors and the wrong options, meant Heath were unable to capitalise on their good work. Indeed from looking like the team that were going to go on to win the game a mad two minutes from the Heath team saw them concede two soft tries. Both were unconverted but in the blink of an eye Dartfordians had taken a 23 -13 lead.
Heath took it to the home side on the restart but a wayward kick was then returned with interest by the Dartfordians’ winger for another sucker punch try and game over at 30-13. But Heath had other ideas and with a couple of minutes left on the clock they showed dogged determination to take something from this encounter, working their way up the park with some huge carries and, after a number of attempts to get over the line were foiled by strong defending, full back Sam Galbraith dived over from a ruck to score. Kerins converted for 30-20.
Then with the last play of the game Heath worked their way into the Dartfordians 22 and when awarded a penalty Kerins took the points to secure a losing bonus point on the final whistle.
Dartfordians probably deserved the win given their fewer mistakes, the strength of their tackling and their clinical finishing but this was a game which Heath could and should have gone on to win having pulled themselves back to parity in the second half. Heath will take some comfort from a losing bonus point and the fact this was the highest points total conceded by Dartfordians so far this season. The defeat drops them back to 5th in the league and their next fixture at home to Charlton Park on 9 December will be another clash against a top of the table side.
Heath RAMS were away at Horsham and went down 25-24 in a tense and slightly fractious local derby.
Heath 1st XV squad: Jack Bull; Alex Wolfe; Euan Greaves-Smith (Greg Palmer); Steve Doku; Ed Bowden; Sam Drage* (Wayne Williams); Josh Salisbury; Nick Main; George Davies; Peter Kerins; Jamie Diggle; Wilf Bridges; Jack Lucas; Bobby Conroy-Smith; Henry Warwick (Sam Galbraith)
Updated 11:25 - 9 Dec 2017 by Tracey Spuyman