Sheldrake’s grand finale

Jack Sheldrake scores one of his two tries for Heath yesterday
Jack Sheldrake scores one of his two tries for Heath yesterday

Heath broke the shackles with a six-try 39-15 success over mid-table North Ribblesdale in near perfect conditions at North Dean yesterday.

Kevin Plant’s side registered only their second home win in Yorkshire One this season and completed it in some style with a spectacular length-of-the-field try finished by Jack Sheldrake and converted from wide out by fellow young gun Ezra Hinchliffe.

It was Heath’s highest score of the season and a rare bonus-point win took them six points clear of the bottom four.

The game was by no means as one-sided as the score suggests. There were a couple of occasions during the match when the home fans must have feared for their side as the visitors from Settle threatened to take charge.

However, there were big performances from the likes of lock Darren Neily and No 8 Hamish Pratt up front for Heath and an embryonic back line in which late call-up Dom Walsh did well at scrum half showed flair and stood up well defensively.

Danger signs were flashing early on as Heath struggled to get their hands on the ball.

Ribb stand off Stephen Moon was on target with his second straight penalty attempt from 35 metres and although Hinchliffe made it 3-3 immediately, a long pass unlocked the home defence for centre Jonny Moore to stride over for an unconverted try and a 3-8 scoreline after 12 minutes.

Heath began to find their feet and a good spell of pressure in the Ribb half yielded two tries in eight minutes.

Strong young centre Sheldrake bumped off a couple of tacklers before sending in winger Si Brown wide on the right and then prop Olly Cook charged over from 20 metres on the other side of the field following a ruck.

Hinchliffe was unable to convert either try but Heath led 13-8 and retained that advantage during an even and uneventful last 15 minutes of the first half.

Both sides had won their set piece ball in the opening period but the Ribb began to turn the screw in the scrums after the break.

Heath survived the visitors’ opening onslaught and took play down the other end where clever handling almost produced a second try for Cook, who was bundled into touch just short.

The position was not lost, however, Sheldrake making the most of quick passing to score wide on the left after 53 minutes to extend the lead to 18-8.

The gap was reduced to three points 10 minutes later when forward pressure yielded a penalty try for the visitors, a Heath player having kicked the ball out of the back of a scrum as the Ribb pack drove for the line. Moon converted.

The momentum appeared to be with the visitors but Heath turned it around in impressive fashion.

Flowing play resulted in back rower Steve Hare going under the posts on 67 minutes, Hinchliffe’s kick making it 25-15.

Two minutes later it was game over. Brown’s excellent grubber kick just inside the touchline landed the visiting defence in trouble and when an attempted clearance was charged down, prop Duncan Edwards, who had only been on the pitch a matter of seconds, had a simple job of scoring. Hinchliffe converted.

Another replacement, Josh Lister, made a timely interception as Ribb refused to throw in the towel.

Play was wide open by this stage and that suited Heath, who rounded things off in style in the closing seconds.

The home side broke out of defence and Koffi Brobbey almost got clear after crossing the half-way line. Heath were streaming forward in numbers, however, and Sheldrake finished off excellent support play with his second try to provide the perfect confidence booster ahead of next Saturday’s tough trip to Doncaster Phoenix.