Keighley RUFC v Heath
Another home game, another win
Report by: Andrew Heys
Keighley went into this weekend’s game on the back of two impressive wins against Beverley and North Ribb respectively, with this and knowing the fact Heath have had a hard start to the season with 3 losses on the bounce. The lads could come into this a little bit complacent but this wasn’t the case as news hit the boys, on the morning of the game, they were down to 15 due to late withdrawals and unavailability as Adam Wurzal withdrew due to illness. The game started with 14 a side, Heath generously agreeing to drop their 8 to match us.
With a quick shuffle in the pack and the last words echoing around the changing room by head coach Arco. The lads came out with their heads screwed on determined to do themselves and the crowds, of about 40 watching, proud.
Keighley for the second time in 2 weeks started the game defending the club house sending the kick off deep into the Heath 22 – the game was underway.
Heath started quick taking every opportunity and keep the ball in their big forwards, their number 8 carry 3 times in the opening couple of minutes. This didn’t bother the Keighley lads who had built a reputation for a ferocious defence, knocked the Heath forwards back with every carry. Great tackles coming in by Max Wild, Toby Stephens and Ethan Spencer the Heath pack looked surprised at the fact the lads didn’t shy away from the challenge. This led to a hurried clearance straight down the throat of full back Bradley Powell, who worked with his back three unit to return the ball with interest, taking the ball to the right flank, using the pacey Lewis Hutchinson as a support. Heath scrambled across and worked hard at the break down this time with big carries from forwards Spencer, Wild, Stephens and hooker come prop for the day Kieran Watts. The forwards drove play just outside the Heath 22 once more with Max Duncan, still impressing at scrum half and the partnership he’s built with Kristian Bealey-Kay at 10, causing issues for the away side. The ball was shipped to captain Denon Sokee on a hard line you could see the fear in his opposite number’s eyes as he tried to make the tackle, he ended up taking off his head, resulting in a penalty and a warning to Heath to keep the tackles down.
Sokee pointed at the sticks and up stepped Bealey-Kay with a sweet strike of the ball he split the posts – 3 points to Keighley.
10 minutes in and Keighley kept coming, not a player in the home side’s 14 stepped back. The excitement in the crowd and the energy the boys omitted was captivating for everyone. The lads kept going, driving the ball back down the pitch with breaks being made by Sokee and wingers Hutchinson and Connor Pennington, Keighley found themselves back in the Heath 22 once more with backs and forwards linking nicely through the marshalling of Duncan and Bealey-Kay. The ball was worked within a inch of the try line, the pack split and with second row Arron Hands coming screaming on to the ball he took a short pop from Duncan and crashed over for a well-deserved try. Conversion missed.
Kick off was caught by try scorer Hands who out of nowhere went on a 60 meter dash up the blindside flank, being dragged down by the last ditch tackle of the Heath full back. Keighley didn’t stop here and with Sam Mortimer having one of his best games along with fellow front row’s Watts and Ciaran Harrod the ball was secured at the following break down and strangely Sokee hit a reverse angle and went back up the blind side. Needing his bulk and power to squirm through the tackles and work to score between the posts. Bealey-Kay scored the conversion.
To Heath’s credit they didn’t give up and worked their way into the Keighley half on numerous occasions but for last ditch tackles by Duncan, Bealey-Kay and the flying Dutch man Joey Van Suilichem. Through poor discipline Heath found themselves on Keighley’s try line, tap penalty and Heath sent in their massive number 8 to score, but he was repelled by Max Duncan who surprisingly held him up over the line – scrum 5. The ball was worked wide one way then the other and Heath scored. A missed conversion.
5minutes left of the half and Keighley were determined to have the last say, another penalty 30 meters out and again Sokee pointed to the sticks once more. Bealey-Kay once again converted.
Keighley 18 Heath 5
Keighley coaches went to give feedback to their players but listening to the leaders in the squad, putting their words out there they quickly realised all they needed to do was reassure them what they were saying was correct.
With the second half now underway all Keighley had to do was play with the same spirit and tempo as the first half but for the first 20minutes they didn’t do this. For some reason they stopped pressing in defence, they stopped tackling hard and they stopped communicating. In reality they went backwards to U10 rugby for 20 minutes arguing amongst themselves, answering back to the referee and panicking under pressure.
This resulted in Heath scoring two converted tries, one that shouldn’t have been allowed as we were note playing with a number 8, the Heath flanker picked and went from 8 to score.
The referee awarded the try, the Keighley captain questioned the decision, the referee had realised his mistake but unfortunately couldn’t reverse his decision as this was U16 at the Rose Cottage and not 6 Nations at Twickenham. Heath led for the first time in the game.
The home side sprang into action, with hard, direct carries by all the players, noticeable difference was when Sokee broke down the left flank after good work by Spencer, Watts and Van Suilichem. Sokee went barraging down the wing, knocking defenders out of the way as he zoned in for the try line, he drew the full back and slipped the ball to supporting winger Pennington to score a well deserved try in the corner. The difficult conversion hit the cross bar from the first touchline.
8 minutes left and the game was still to play for. Keighley were a different animal in the remaining 15 minutes of the second half, driving the ball forward at will, back into the 22 but then to be repelled and to go again with Hands and Harrod adding pace to the pack and Sokee and Bealey-Kay adding power to the back line Keighley pressed again and again. The ball was once again worked through the centres, charging down the left flank to be dragged down just outside the 22.
Keighley had previously noticed, earlier in the game, that Hutchinson’s wing was left unguarded and this was finally used to their advantage as Bealey-Kay put in a delightful cross-field kick to Hutchinson who burst onto the ball and scored to the right of the sticks. Conversion missed.
This could have proved to be costly as Heath rallied once more to bring them within 2 points and 3 minutes to go.
The home side was reduced to 13 men for the remainder of the game when Max Wild put his body on the line and came off worse for wear, resulting in him being withdrawn from the action.
2 minutes left, with a man disadvantage, could have broken most teams but this did not prove to be the case for Keighley. Everyone stepped up, Duncan smashing players 3 times his size and Bealey-Kay doing what he does best and flying into tackles but most importantly Pennington timing 3 man and ball tackles to perfection, knowing if he missed them Heath would score and win. Keighley turned Heath over after great work at the break down by Powell and Stephens. The forwards kept the ball into the final whistle from referee Paul Spencer, who had a very good game all in all.
Keighley 28 Heath 26
Man of the match - MAX DUNCAN
All the coaches, Arco being the only full time coach available with the help of Andrew, Phil and Gavin, were extremely proud of the effort and spirt the boys showed. They are being lead extremely well on and off the field by Captain Denon Sokee and the other big characters in the squad. It is hard to describe the difference in these boys from a year or two ago and it is hard to write the word boys when they really are now young men who play with the mentality and attitude (sometimes) of Men.
The lads have a rest weekend next weekend before they meet a different challenge when local rivals Wharfedale visit Rose Cottage.