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More Woodhead joy for Heath

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Heath maintained their recent stranglehold over Old Brodleians, and retained the Littlefair Cup, with a 28-17 success at Woodhead yesterday.

Only one point divided the teams entering the last five minutes but the sin-binning of home back Matt Carbutt opened the door for visiting centre Ezra Hinchliffe to kick a penalty and he then converted Saif Boussaada’s try to settle matters.

The visitors were maintaining their promotion quest in Yorkshire One and while not at their best, coach Dave Harrison said: “It is always good to win up here.”

Brods were losing at home for the third Saturday in a row and their season is unravelling with coach Matt Smith frustrated by key absentees every week.

Yesterday, while Bennie Pritchett and Jay Dahlinger returned to improve the scrum, the main musical chairs centred around their backs with stand off Dan Cole at a wedding and centre Phil Town working.

The adjustments included No 8 Rob Jennings lining up in midfield and Chris Vine brought in from the wing to scrum half, where he appeared to enjoy the extra involvement.

In sunny, much drier conditions than a week earlier, Heath were unable to make their extra strength up front really tell against a Brods side who were quick to shovel the ball out of their retreating scrum and even managed to take one against the head.

The match appeared to be going according to the form book when the visitors took an 11-0 lead down the slope in the first quarter.

Fullback Eddie Cartwright was the first to expose weaknesses in the home side’s tackling and his fifth-minute break was continued by centre Jordan Bradbrook and No 8 Richard Brown before scrum half Pete Birkett raced to the line.

Hinchliffe was unable to convert but added two straightforward penalties from the 22 on nine and 19 minutes.

Stand-in kicker Matty Hoyle, with the tee back in the changing rooms, missed a good chance of three points for Brods between Hinchliffe’s successful attempts.

The sin-binning of Heath stand-off Jack Crabtree sparked a Brods fightback in the second quarter.

Home stand off Gareth Newman touched down after concerted pressure and Hoyle added a fine conversion.

Hinchliffe then kicked the ball dead twice in quick succession and Brods made ground up the left. Hoyle was high tackled and Jennings caught Heath napping by tapping the penalty and muscling his way over from 15 metres.

Hoyle was unable to add the extras but Brods had a surprise 12-11 interval lead.

Heath had been “pretty ordinary” according to Harrison, who switched Hinchliffe to the main play making role with success after the break.

It was still Brods who were doing the pressing but the telling contributions in the third quarter came from Jason Merrie.

The visiting flanker backed up a break from Hinchliffe to go under the posts for a converted try to make it 18-12 on 49 minutes and then did well to stop home winger Tom Kill grounding the ball over the try line at the other end.

Vine got back to prevent a break from Callum Harriet-Brown while Newman went it alone with men outside and lost possession as another Brods chance went begging.

Hinchliffe hit a post with a penalty before Brods narrowed the gap to one point on 73 minutes when hooker Dahlinger went over wide out after Kill and replacement Alex Murphy had made good ground.

Carbutt’s high tackle proved the fatal mistake for Brods. Hinchliffe knocked over the penalty and although Kill’s tap tackle stopped Bradbrook getting away, play swung to the other side of the pitch where lock Boussaada plunged over. Hinchliffe converted from close to the touchline and Brods’ late efforts to salvage a losing bonus point and a four-try bonus faltered when another attack in the Heath 22 broke down.