Heath 20 Old Brodleians 21
Brods are breathing a little easier in their Yorkshire One survival fight after avenging a defeat at Woodhead in November.
A contest in which the lead changed hands six times was eventually settled by a penalty shot apiece in the last eight minutes.
Danny Wood hit the target with a fine 40 metre effort for the visitors and Charlie Lomas just failed to match his accuracy from a little closer to the posts for Heath.
It had been hard to imagine how Brods could win this contest. They expected to be out-gunned up front by an experienced and solid home pack and their much-changed back line hasn’t yet found any fluency.
A players’ meeting on Tuesday, following a lacklustre display at bottom club Knottingley, obviously had the desired effect as they showed what could be achieved with a positive approach plus a little help from Lady Luck.
Their first victory in seven games took them eight points clear of bottom two Knottingley and Barnsley with six rounds of fixtures to go.
Heath, for their part, failed to press home a significant advantage in the scrums and didn’t get it right tactically in the second half with many pointing the finger at stand off Giles Hetherington.
Their dip and form - other results left them relieved to hang on to ninth place in the table - and an increasingly impotent back line must be a worry for coach Kevin Plant.
Brods made the brighter start on a cold, dry day but Heath won an early scrum penalty - a sign of things to come - and Hetherington’s sweetly-struck drop goal gave the home side the lead on seven minutes.
Heath had drafted in experienced Elland ARL player Junaid Malik at centre and when he failed to retreat 10 metres at a tapped penalty, Wood made it 3-3 on 10 minutes with an angled 30 metre kick.
Rival number 10s Hetherington and Wood both kicked for position regularly and successfully in the first period, a slide-rule effort from the former prompting a spell of pressure close to the Brods line.
The opening try came on 18 minutes against the run of play. Wood’s clearance took a wicked bounce as Lomas and scrum half Gary Pigeon waited just over the half-way line and Brods’ promising young right wing Kristian Sharples hacked the ball forward, picked up and plunged over wide out for an unconverted try.
Lomas was narrowly off target with a penalty from 35 metres but Heath took the lead on 28 minutes following a kick to the corner and lineout catch and drive. When Brods twice halted Heath’s scrum surge illegally, referee Colin Tovey awarded a penalty try and Lomas added the easy kick to make it 10-8.
The visitors were back in front three minutes later. Wood’s penalty to touch, then a driving maul was followed by a powerful run to within a metre of the try line from centre Rob Jennings. Tovey came back for a penalty and Wood obliged with an easy kick.
It was Heath’s turn to attack and they snatched a 15-11 interval lead as they continued to turn the screw up front.
Their rampaging forward were held up over the line but returning No 8 Ian Downsborough eventually planted the ball down one-handed near the corner flag on the right following a scrum. The ball hit the right post from Lomas’s kick.
Hetherington’s ambitious and failed drop goal attempt at the start of the second half was followed by Brods’ second try on 50 minutes. Wood swallow dived over the line, only to be brought back for a knock on, but there was no stopping winger Danny Chappell on a 30 metre burst down the left and Wood’s conversion made it 18-15 to the visitors.
Scrum half Ian Mallard covered back superbly to snuff out the threat from winger Mick Gleeson after a rare Heath backs move and the home side were unable to make the most of a promising field position, centre Dave Montgomery knocking on.
The home side quickly returned to the attack, however, and blind side flanker Jeff Jones picked up and drove over from a scrum on 67 minutes.
The score remained 20-18 as Lomas missed the kick and when Wood won his late kicking duel with the Heath fullback, Brods had pulled off an unlikely success.