Cook dismissed in opening day defeat

Heath prop Rondene Johnson  runs past former Halifax RUFC players Joe Bartlett and Richard Hill on his way to the line
Heath prop Rondene Johnson runs past former Halifax RUFC players Joe Bartlett and Richard Hill on his way to the line

Ollie Cook was sent off as Heath suffered a first day 28-12 defeat at the hands of Wath in Yorkshire One.

Cook received his marching orders for a high tackle just before the interval with Heath trailing 14-13.

Although the hosts worked hard to overcome their handicap, a hard-earned losing bonus point was all they were able to take from the game.

Heath were looking to avenge two defeats by Wath last year. Debutante Rondene Johnson and Stephen Hare came in for Chris Moore and Kofi Brobbey with Rob Thackray in for the injured Mark Baxendale. Sam Pollard, Hamish Pratt and Louis McKenzie were on the bench.

Heath kicked off and from Wath’s return kick Ian Downsborough made a superb 30 metre run before being stopped. Continuous attacking play from Heath involving Jamie Watson, Ollie Cook, Mark Puttick and Johnson eventually forced Wath to concede a penalty which Ezra Hinchliffe duly converted for a 3-0 lead.

Heath continued to probe before an injury to Watson saw Pratt enter the fray, and as the hosts reorganised Wath attacked with Bray going over for a try converted by Appleyard.

A mistake from the kick-off saw a Wath scrum. Then, an attempted clearance kick to touch was charged down by Balshaw who went over for a second Wath try in as many minutes. Appleyard converted for a 14-3 lead after 15 minutes.

Five minutes later Gleeson kicked ahead to give Thackray a clear chance but he was obstructed. Heath chose to go for touch and good play from Downsborough, Hare and Puttick put the captain close to scoring before Johnson went over in the corner from a scrum. An excellent conversion by Hinchliffe from the touchline reduced the deficit to 14-10.

Hinchliffe then converted a penalty to make it 14-13 but their momentum was stopped when Cook was ordered off.

Deep into first-half injury time, Wath were caught offside as Brown and Miller chased a long ball. Hinchliffe edged Heath ahead, 16-14, and the referee blew for half time.

Hare came off injured and Pratt went on, then, within a minute, Watson had to come off so Hare went back on and Heath reorganised the scrum.

However, following lazy covering from the back row Wath were able to dance through for an easy try on 46 minutes to lead 21-16.

Pollard replaced Sheldrake as Heath struggled to cope with being a man down, and despite the efforts of Wilby and Downsborough, fullback Burke went over for a try, converted by Appleyard.

From a lineout, Walsh, Hinchliffe and Pollard linked well to release Gleeson and Brown, the latter only just putting a foot in touch as the tryline beckoned. Pollard was then instrumental in setting up the next attack, linking with Walsh and Miller before Wath’s Hopkin was sin-binned for deliberate interference off the ball as the pressure grew.

With 15 minutes left, Gleeson came off and McKenzie went on and made an immediate impact. An inspirational run from Downsborough released Walsh and Miller who was held up.

Heath were not to be denied and when slick passing between Pollard, Miller and McKenzie put Brown away he slid in for a try to bring Heath back to within a score at 28-21.

Heath continued to press and yet again the quick-thinking Downsborough set up the young backs. As Thackray went for the tryline the referee blew for a forward pass.

Wath were then pleased to slow the game down until the final whistle.