Heath 14 Huddersfield YMCA 57
The league table proved a more accurate guide than the form book as Heath were swept aside by a young and enthusiastic YM side in Yorkshire One.
The West Vale men went into the game on the back of three consecutive league wins while YM had lost their previous two.
However, the second-placed visitors ran in eight tries against their 10th-placed hosts and winger Gavin Stead converted all of them apart the first. He also added a penalty for good measure in a one-sided derby.
Heath had the advantage in the scrums but the YM were head and shoulders above their rivals elsewhere, particularly in the backs where their power and pace proved too much for the patched-up home threequarters.
Unable to train properly for two weeks because of frozen of waterlogged pitches, Heath failed to get the basics right and YM were quick to capitalise when their opponents coughed up possession.
“A bad day at the office” was how Heath coach Kevin Plant described it, his side being second best from the moment they failed to gather in the visitors’ kick off.
An uncertain start from scrum half Richard Cole and some poor discipline from his teammates meant it took the Laund Hill men only six minutes to put points on the board.
Scrum half Simon Wilson’s penalty to touch 10 metres out was followed by a lineout catch and drive, No 8 Mark Whitehead touching down.
Young centre Ezra Hinchliffe’s chip to the corner gave Heath their first attacking platform but YM’s lineout was put under no pressure and fullback Sam Pollard knocked on a wickedly-bouncing clearance kick.
YM stole a lineout to cut short another Heath attack. Wilson’s boot took play back to the other end and powerful centre Ed Barber was held up on the try line before Stead’s penalty made it 0-8 after 23 minutes.
Hinchliffe missed a 30 metre penalty following the restart and after Cole had knocked on the 22 drop out, YM showed their ability to score from broken field positions.
The visitors launched a counter-attack from inside their own half and young winger Lloyd Bentley - son of dual-code international John - took an inside pass close to the right-hand touchline and scorched in at the side of the posts for Stead to make it 0-15 on 26 minutes.
YM fullback Matt Johnson headed off the danger from Si Brown’s chip through and shortly after sped to the try line at the other end.
Stead’s kick stretching the visitors’ lead to 22-0 after 31 minutes and the winger might have sewn up the four-try bonus point had he been able to hold on to Barber’s inside pass on the stroke of half time.
Heath desperately needed a good start to the second period but instead they were driven back 40 metres in a maul and Barber took advantage of paper thin defence to score at the side of the posts.
The seemingly harsh sin-binning of YM lock James Bell gave Heath encouragement and after Ian Downsborough and replacement prop James Watson had gone close, South Yorkshire referee David Lindsay awarded them a penalty try on 52 minutes and Hincliffe converted.
Hopes of further progress were dashed when a loose Heath pass hit skipper Dave Montgomery on the head close to half way and YM were quick to cash in, hooker Ben Hill sending Adam Rider over.
Centre Rider made it two tries in 11 minutes, shrugging off a poor attempted tackle, and YM hit the half-century mark on 66 minutes with Heath’s defence scattered to the four winds, hooker Josh Rafter getting the score.
Heath were rewarded for a decent spell of pressure with a try from young replacement Peter Birkett, converted by Hinchliffe, but YM appropriately had the final word when Stead sent Bentley haring in for his second in the last minute.