Heath sunk by hosts’ late flourish

Heath prop James Watson in possession against Selby
Heath prop James Watson in possession against Selby

Heath’s disappointing start to the season continued with a 38-20 defeat at Selby, newly promoted to Yorkshire One, in a game which was closer than the final scoreline suggests.

Rondene Johnson withdrew through illness and was replaced on the bench by Peter Birkett.

The sides looked evenly matched but a defensive lapse allowed Selby an unconverted try on six minutes.

Matt Hallett attacked in response with forwards Ian Downsborough, Hamish Pratt and Chris Moore making charges.

Backs Euan Miller, Ezra Hinchliffe and Matt Baxendale were then prominent before Selby were offside and Hinchliffe obliged with the penalty, making it 5-3.

Heath continued to press with Stephen Hare and Moore surging forward. The ball was swung out to Hinchliffe, Miller and then Hallett, whose superb off-load released Mick Gleeson to go over for a try on 16 minutes. Hinchliffe converted and Heath were in control with a 10-5 lead.

Selby were making too many mistakes and Heath tried to capitalise.

On 20 minutes, Baxendale raced through from deep and was stopped 15 metres short. The next three phases of play were dominated by Heath forwards and Selby were penalised, Hinchliffe increasing the lead to 13-5 on 22 minutes.

Selby mounted only their second attack, kicking through, but Jack Sheldrake cleared. A five metre scrum followed. Heath’s pack stood firm but Selby were awarded a penalty which Josh Cruise converted.

Heath’s play was becoming scrappy and while Pratt lay injured they gave away two penalties, including and a kickable one on 33 minutes which was missed.

Pratt had to come off, forced a shuffle in the pack, and as Heath adjusted, Selby swooped for a second try, scored in the corner by Sam Weller for a half time score of 13-13.

The early second half action was fast and furious but three Heath errors led to Selby scoring an unconverted try in the corner, despite of the efforts of Sheldrake and Gleeson.

Heath needed to concentrate on retaining possession but when James Watson fumbled, with an overlap created, Selby pounced. Fullback Dan Porter waltzed over for a try and Cruise’s conversion made it 25 – 13.

Dom Walsh and Hinchliffe led a speedy response and a long pass enabled Hallett to storm through but desperate defence halted his progress. Moore then battered his way through but Selby just managed to cling on.

After a series of scrums which they dominated, Heath were awarded a penalty try on 56 minutes and with Hinchliffe’s conversion they were back in the game at 25-20.

Peter Birkett replaced Walsh at scrum half and made an immediate impact, Baxendale going close after a series of quick passes.

A dancing run from Hallett turned defence into attack and great play from Hare and Birkett moved Heath further forward, only for them to drop the ball.

A Selby penalty fell just short and a home winger was stopped by Hallett’s superb tackle.

However, play continued, to the surprise of onlookers, and Weller scored his second try, converted by Cruise, to make it 32-20 on 70 minutes.

The home side missed a penalty but had the final say when Cruise dropped a goal.