Heath hang on to claim victory

Heath v Bradford Salem
Olly Cook scores
Heath v Bradford Salem Olly Cook scores

Heath survived a last quarter scare to beat Bradford Salem 33-29 at North Dean yesterday and end a four-match losing streak in Yorkshire One.

With derby foes Old Brodleians due to visit next Saturday, Dave Harrison’s men were desperate to steady the ship after a below-par display at lowly Selby the previous week.

They did just that in spite of appearing to lose concentration and tiring against a Salem side who belatedly came to life.

Heath controlled the opening 40 minutes in blustery conditions with little getting past towering Fergus Marsden at the front of the lineout and Ezra Hinchliffe, Sam Pollard and Dom Walsh kicking well for position.

The scrum was also solid as they built a deserved 22-8 interval lead.

Hinchliffe set the ball rolling with a penalty for a high tackle on six minutes and he added the conversion after his break had enabled centre partner Jack Sheldrake to race in close to the posts on 11 minutes.

Heath might have added to their 10-0 lead when scrum half Dom Walsh darted through the middle but his pass to the supporting Peter Birkett wasn’t ideal and the ball went to ground.

Salem’s best player, right winger Nick Fontaine, pulled back five points on 18 minutes when he left four tacklers on the turf with a weaving long-range dash to the line.

However, Heath were still in the ascendancy and after successive penalties prop Olly Cook just made it to the line for a 15-5 scoreline.

Visiting fullback Danny Belcher slotted a penalty when Heath when penalised for holding on in a ruck and the scoreboard operator continued to be busy, Hinchliffe’s fine run paving the way for Birkett to dive in at the corner.

Hinchliffe added a fine conversion and Heath turned round sitting pretty with a 14-point lead.

Salem had lived on scraps of possession in the first half but fared better after the break.

Solid defence held them at bay and home hooker Alex McFadden showed his strength by stealing ball in the mauls.

When winger Callum Harriott-Brown touched down from Jack Crabtree’s perfect angled kick on 56 minutes to make it 27-8, it looked over bar the shouting.

However, Salem hit back with two tries in six minutes to suddenly gain hope.

Fontaine embarrassed the home defence with his second and when Heath loss possession at the back of their scrum, replacement forward Tom Craven charged over. Belcher added both goals and the gap was down to five points.

A Hinchliffe penalty with seven minutes left made it 30-22 but Heath were now dropping off the tackles and Belcher set up centre Ryan Smith to score before adding a towering conversion to cut Heath’s lead to a single point.

Crabtree had the presence of mind to drop a goal, to ensure a penalty wouldn’t be enough for Salem.

The visitors had one last chance when the ball ran dead from what had appeared to be a fine clearance from Hinchliffe, play coming back to the home 22 for a Salem scrum, but Heath held up and halted the visitors’ maul to clinch victory.