THERE was unfinished business to attend to at Woodhead on Saturday and visitors Heath upset the applecart with a 25-19 win over Old Brodleians.
The Yorkshire One fixture had been abandoned five weeks earlier when Heath’s Will Nicholson suffered a severe leg injury after 63 minutes with his side leading 12-10.
Brods had notched a hat-trick of wins since then so went into Saturday’s contest as warm favourites against a North Dean side with only one success in the interim and third from bottom of the table.
Both sides once more had extended periods of dominance but the general quality of play was improved from the first meeting and the difference in the final analysis was goalkicking with home marksman Danny Wood having an off day.
Heath stormed into a 17-0 lead in the first 24 minutes down the slope.
Strengthened by the returns of James Watson, Jeff Jones and Charlie Lomas, the fired-up visitors had an edge in the scrums and penned their strangely subdued hosts back in their own half.
Lomas kicked them in front with a penalty on six minutes and they twice manufactured an overlap on the left but failed to get the ball to winger Rob Thackray.
Elementary handling errors were costing the Brods but it was their slowness to the breakdown, after fullback Aaron Fowler had made a good run out of defence, which cost them the first try on 12 minutes.
Heath turned the ball over and Giles Hetherington’s clever cross kick was gratefully gathered by hooker Mark Puttick, who stepped inside the one covering defender to touch down. Lomas made it 10-0 with the conversion 15 metres in from the touchline.
Winger Simon Brown had a try ruled out but Hetherington, whose 40 metre diagonal run from his own half had set up that attacking platform, did get Heath’s second try. He was unstoppable with a low thrust from 10 metres, picking up a knock for his troubles and having to leave the field temporarily. Lomas’s conversion added to Brods’ woes.
John Cole’s hosts at last got their act together, young scrum half Dominic Georgiou’s high kick and follow up tackle on Brown earning the home side a penalty.
Wood’s effort was a poor one but the increasing pressure applied by Brods resulted in yellow cards for Heath’s Puttick and Jamie Richardson.
Brods narrowed the gap to 5-17 with three minutes remaining, lock Matt Willis grounding the ball just to the left of the posts.
Two points went begging when Wood missed the kick and prop Callum Thompson’s knock on as Brods attacked again brought relief to Heath in the form of the half-time whistle.
It was the turn of Brods’ other second row, Kyle Millward, to get on the scoresheet two minutes into the second half, after good work from powerful centre Rob Jennings.
When Wood added the goal to cut the deficit to five points, it seemed that Brods could come through to win with the help of the slope.
However, the visitors drove hard through the forwards and replacement prop Ollie Cook made it 12-22 with an unconverted try wide on Heath’s right after 48 minutes.
A flare-up in front of the clubhouse left young Brods prop Alex Dawson nursing a facial cut and his over-zealous replacement Jamie McLaughlin was yellow carded almost immediately.
However, that didn’t stop the 14-man Brods from closing the gap to three points on 64 minutes.
Jennings stormed through the middle and Fowler rounded things off behind the posts for Wood to convert.
Wood missed a long penalty and should have tied the scores when Heath were offside in front of their posts. The youngster put the kick wide, to general amazement.
Heath back rowers Jones, Dave Montgomery and Ollie Wilby worked the ball away from their own line and, following a penalty kick to touch, Hetherington’s slide rule grubber kick enabled Martin Moana to touch down only for the veteran centre to be ruled offside.
The home side’s increasing desperation was summed up when Willis tapped the penalty, ran away from his own posts without support and conceded a penalty which Lomas knocked over to complete the scoring.