Lancaster watches Heath win

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Heath played their first ever league match on an artificial surface at West Park Leeds yesterday and had no complaints after registering a 35-25 success.

Their bonus-point win over the bottom club, after victory at Old Crossleyans the previous week, took them above inactive Old Brodleians and next week’s visitors North Ribblesdale into seventh place in Yorkshire One.

One interested observer was former England coach Stuart Lancaster, a long standing member of the Leeds club, whose former charges won at Murrayfield later in the afternoon.

Continual rain throughout the morning meant the first team grass pitch was unplayable, hence the switch to the ‘caged in’ all-weather pitch.

Chris Piper had not recovered from injury and Cameron Ramsden and Dominic Walsh had work commitments so Darren Neilly into the scrum and Callum Harriet-Brown onto the wing. On the bench Paddy Kerr joined Ryan Hunter and Mark Sales.

Heath kicked off into a strong wind and had the best possible start when Matt Baxendale picked up a loose ball and sped towards the try line before being caught by the home full back. From the resultant play, Jack Crabtree linked with Ezra Hinchliffe, whose astute pass sent prop Rondene Johnson under the posts. Hinchliffe converted.

The home side came straight back with an unconverted try in the corner and then a penalty to lead 8-7 after eight minutes.

A clever kick from Crabtree resulted in West Park being offside and Hinchliffe’s penalty put Heath back in front at 10-8 on 13 minutes.

Heath No 8 Josh White was beginning to have an influence but the visitors were struggling for line out ball and the home side cashed in on a mistake to go under the posts for a converted try to lead 15-10 after 25 minutes.

The surface was having a big say on the pace of the game and points looked available for both sides.

Good work from Peter Birkett and Daz Neilly helped Heath earn had a scrum five metres from the home line and the ball was moved along the back line before Sam Pollard’s delayed pass sent winger Callum Harriet-Brown in at the corner for a converted try and 17-15 lead.

West Park pressed for the final 10 minutes of the half and Mark Puttick was sin binned. Only a tap tackle from Pollard preserved Heath’s lead.

The hosts continued to press but the pressure was relieved and Hinchliffe added a 48th minute penalty and then a try when Si Brown charged down an attempted clearance and touched down for a 25-15 lead.

West Park missed a couple of penalty chances as Heath continued to look for a bonus point fourth try.

Brown left the field after a nasty collision with Crabtree and Pollard was sin binned. However, Heath quickly re-grouped and a superb run from Fergus Marsden was rewarded with a successful Hinchliffe penalty to make it 28-15.

When White rounded off another swift play to score the bonus point try and the conversion was added, Heath were romping away at 35-15 after 65 minutes.

Crabtree was then injured and West Park mounted a series of attacks. Peter Birkett saved a certain try before the Leeds side scored two in the space of four minutes but it was too little too late.