1st XV - Report
HALF CENTURY FOR HEATH AT BECKENHAM
It was a very impressive Heath performance with eight tries, three in the first six minutes, in a 22-55 win at Beckenham.
Clawing their way back into the game and inspired by captain and number 8 Pete Thorne, who impressed throughout Beckenham's rearguard action, the home side camped in Heath's 22. Big tackles from Joe Hoare and Declan French in midfield and from the whole back row, saw Heath hold out until Al Harle was yellow carded for a series of team infringements on the ground. Whilst Heath reorganised from this and from Marc Cashman's departure with a shoulder injury, Beckenham took advantage. From the next line out they drove 20 metres for a try, converted by full back Joe Chivers. Five minutes later Beckenham narrowed the lead from a Chivers penalty and, with the score at 19-10 to Heath, some anxiety developed on the touchline amongst Heath's loyal supporters. A collective sigh of relief came pretty immediately when, from a line out 20 metres from the Beckenham line, Heath returned the compliment with a massive drive allowing Jonny Baugh, who was everywhere, to punch his way over from five metres for the fourth try and a bonus point. Jackson's conversion took the score to 26-10. A big 5 metre scrum and a pick up saw Al Harle add to his season's try tally with Jackson adding the points for a 33-10 half time lead.
Heath started the second half without prop Chris Turner, late tackling in midfield at the end of the first half and spending ten minutes in the bin. Despite this Heath started the half where they had finished the first when, from great work on the short side from Dave Winsor, Declan French finished from 30 metres, converted by Jackson for a 40-10 lead. Again capitalising on Heath's fourteen men and a poor clearance kick into the wind, speedy wing Charlie Baffour scudded into the corner. It was Heath's turn though to up the ante with Turner returning to the field and Beckenham down to fourteen following their own yellow card. Heath struck back energetically. A massive defensive scrum turned over the ball, Heath swept upfield and, with Al Harle brushing off defenders, Beckenham conceded a penalty to Jackson's boot. Straight away from yet another superbly constructed Rob Hollingum line out, Sam Hill broke tackles and Jonny Baugh, not to be outdone by Atkins, showed his own pace to score from 30 metres and under the posts. Two points from Jackson and Heath were 50-15 ahead.
By this stage, Heath were dominant everywhere and in danger of running amok. Beckenham's scrum was in disarray as Turner, Jenkins, Hopcroft and, later, Prescott turned the screw. Line out ball was clean and, with the back row operating speedily and effectively from that base, ruck ball was quickly delivered to an incisive back line where Greg Jackson, replacing Cashman, and Joe Hoare were posing questions. The next score, however, was from Beckenham when a quickly-taken penalty on the half way line found Heath lacking numbers on the right. Thorne was in support for the try and Chivers made the conversion. 22-50, but Heath had the last word as they turned over another scrum. Nick Main, on for the impressive Josh Salisbury, carried well, offloading to Winsor for Heath’s final try on the 79th minute. Heath continued to press in injury time but couldn’t quite score another.
22-55 was sufficient reward for Heath’s most convincing performance of the season. It provides an encouraging platform from which to build over the next few games, beginning at Whiteman’s Green on Saturday against Portsmouth (KO 3.00 p.m.) who notched a surprise win over Guernsey.
Chris Turner (Jim Prescott, 70,) Huw Jenkins (capt), Adam Hopcroft, Rob Hollingum, Sam Hill, Al Harle, Josh Salisbury (Nick Main, 70), Jonny Baugh, Dave Winsor, Rob Jackson, Marc Cashman (Greg Jackson, 20), Joe Hoare, Declan French, Roscoe Atkins, Scott Dowman