Heath pegged back at Ponty

Heath's Ian Downsborough and Mark Puttick at Pontefract
Heath's Ian Downsborough and Mark Puttick at Pontefract

Heath lost their way in the final quarter and had to settle for a 24-24 draw at Pontefract in Yorkshire One.

They looked almost certain to bag only a second league win of the season when they led 24-7 but in the end they were relieved to cling on for a draw.

The North Dean men had an unchanged starting line-up but brought in Oliver Wilby and Josh Lister on the bench when Dominic Walsh and Kofi Brobbey failed late fitness tests.

A promising Heath start went unrewarded, Ezra Hinchliffe missing a penalty for offside before Cameron Ramsden tore through the Pontefract defence but was just held up short of the try line.

Pontefract took the lead with a converted try on 14 minutes, their pack shunting their way over from a five metre scrum.

Heath needed to respond and from the re-start Matt Baxendale took advantage of Pontefract hesitancy to steal in, pick up the ball and go under the posts. Hinchliffe’s conversion made it 7-7.

This spurred Heath into action and the home defence made basic mistakes and gave away penalties. From one of them Peter Birkett took a quick tap and linked up with the supporting Alex Cust and Ewan Miller before touching down for a converted try and a 14-7 lead after 18 minutes.

Heath were in control and a move involving Si Brown, Ewan Miller and Matt Baxendale was thwarted by the Pontefract fullback.

Ryan Hunter and Ian Downsborough were winning good lineout ball but Heath needed a try saving tackle from Stephan Hare, who was injured and replaced by Wilby.

Ewan Miller was having his best game of the season for Heath, who blew two try-scoring opportunities before a Hinchliffe penalty gave them a 17-7 interval lead.

Olly Cook replaced the injured Chris Moore in the front row.

The packs dominated the first 10 minutes after the break and on 52 minutes Heath scored the best try of the game.

From a scrum, Downsborough, Peter Birkett and Ramsden linked well to release Hinchliffe, who slipped the ball to Miller for the score. Hinchliffe converted and it seemed Heath were firmly on course for victory.

However, Wilby was sin binned and Ponty scored in the corner after intense pressure on the hour. The conversion from the touchline made it 14-24.

Alarm bells started ringing for Heath when the home side scored a converted try under the posts to cut the deficit to three points on 64 minutes.

Then constant Pontefract pressure resulted in an equalising penalty for offside on 72 minutes.

Heath were hanging on but had a chance to snatch victory themselves in a final foray but Hinchliffe’s penalty was well wide.