Rugby round-up: Dominant pack help Heath to away win
Heath continued to build on a solid start to life in North One East with a 19-17 win at Durham City.
Callum Harriott-Brown failed a late fitness test on a hamstring injury, so, making his first team debut was Jack Bruce. The pack saw Gavin Rhodes missing, due to work commitments, and welcomed back Ben Stringer at 8, with Fergus Marsden moving to his usual role in the second row. On the bench it was a welcome return to Saif Boussadda who sat alongside Matt Hallett and Olly Cook.
Durham, who were looking for their first win of the season, kicked off playing towards the clubhouse and were handed the perfect start as Heath were caught offside and an early penalty saw the home club lead 3-0 with 2 minutes on the clock. Heath had not settled and struggled with line-out ball and dropped ball so it came as no surprise to see the home side waltz in for a converted try and a well deserved score of 10-0 with 10 minutes played.
It needed a big effort from the visitors to work their way back into the game and the first real inroad into the home sides half saw Fergus Marsden win line-out ball and the Heath pack drove forwards. Dom Walsh then released Dan Cole whose swift pass to the supporting Eddie Cartwright saw the full back drive for the line.
His slick pass to Jack Bruce and on to Elliott Spiers looked like a certain try but Durham’s cover defence saved the day. The Home side was struggling to stem the Heath onslaught and gave away a penalty in front of their posts. Heath’s scrum was dominant and it looked as if Ben Stringer was going to open their account, but he was adjudged to have knocked on and the try was disallowed.
Olly Cook replaced Paul Turner, at prop, after 20 minutes and he had an immediate impact. The visitors were now managing to keep possession and became encamped in the home side’s half. Cook, Will McLaughlin and Stringer made solid yardage as the Durham defence began to crumble and it was only a matter of time before a Heath score. From yet another scrum in front of the posts, Ben Stringer controlled the ball and this time scored the try, converted by Dan Cole. Heath were back in the game 10-7 as the half time whistle sounded.
The break was welcomed more by Durham as the second half was a mirror image of the first when the home side scored a converted try with only two minutes on the clock. Heath were guilty of not switching back on after the break and a score of 17-7 meant an uphill battle for the visitors. On came Saif Boussadda and Matt Hallett, replacing Fergus Marsden and Jack Bruce, as coach Harry looked to instil some urgency and the next ten minutes saw Heath begin to take control. Durham’s defence was struggling and they were giving away numerous penalties, to try to stem the tidal onslaught.
Following yet another penalty, for a high tackle, Heath had the breakthrough as Elliott Spiers jinked his way over the line for a try, converted by Dan Cole, and a score of 17-14 with a quarter of the game left to play. Heath’s scrum was massively dominant and in full control, so it was only a matter of time before there was another score.
Matt Hallett was floored by another dangerous tackle from the home side and when Dan Cole found touch, five metres out from the Durham try line it looked like a chance for Heath. Boussadda secured the catch and Heath drove for the line but Durham held firm. It was all Heath and from yet another penalty the visitors capitalised with a quick tap and the ball eventually found Spiers who scored his second try, in the corner. A difficult conversion was just short but Heath had managed to take the lead 19-17 with 10 minutes left to play.
Heath now went in search of the bonus point try but Durham were also looking to restore the lead. However, time was on Heath’s side and as the clock wound down they were quite happy to kick the ball into touch to secure a third win.
This was a real battle for Heath who came up against a home side who were desperate for their first win of the season. However, Heath had other ideas and just about deserved the points, which puts them in fifth spot in the league and now their attention is focused on next week’s home encounter against bottom club Consett.
Rishworthians were well beaten 17-40 by a fast-paced Selby side who looked every inch promotion contenders.
It became even worse with a red card near the end. In a mass brawl which ought to have seen yellow cards for players on both sides, the referee singled out Ethan Pollard, who had been one of Rishworthians’ better performers.
In the first minute the home side might have had two tries. Flanker Simanu Tusiga broke free, but the final pass did not go to hand. Then Jacob Bower, who started the game at centre, picked up a loose ball and headed for the line only to be called back for an earlier infringement.
That was basically the only potential attacking possession Rishworthians had for the next 30 minutes.
They immediately found themselves on the defensive and tried to run the ball from close to their line, only to find possession turned over and Selby fly half Henry Wright, who was a thorn in their side throughout, darted through a gap to score. He converted his own try.
Minutes later the ball went along the Selby line for a try in the corner and an excellent conversion by Wright.
Rishworthians found it difficult to handle the visitors’ pace and support play and when a Selby player dived through a mass of players to add a third converted try, the writing was on the wall.
Josh Kelly kicked a penalty as Rishworthians tried to come back, but Wright turned them inside out with a dazzling run to add a fourth converted try.
Just before the break the home side finally put together an attack with the back row of Tusiga, Pollard and Callum Bell combining well to go close.
Rishworthians came out strongly in the second half and prop Phil Kershaw, Pollard and replacement Jack Davis all went close to earn a penalty near the Selby line.
It was quickly taken and Kelly dummied to put Bower, who had moved to scrum half for the injured Liam Phillips, over under the posts. Kelly converted.
Selby hit straight back and a rolling maul brought another converted try. The home men continued to press but a loose ball was picked up and sent wide for an unconverted try in the corner.
Rishworthians were getting the backlash for Selby’s unexpected home defeat the previous week, but they never gave up and one bright spot was an impressive debut by replacement forward Will Clay.
Near the end home pressure saw the ball go out and Davis burst through to score. Kelly converted.
Old Crossleyans recorded a 43-12 win over West Leeds.
Crocs then came into the game when Joe Gallagher launched his backs from the subsequent scrum, veteran full back James Wheelwright came into the attack line to make the extra man and duly released winger George Ackroyd into space who raced 30 meters evading the West Leeds cover defence to score in the corner. Joe Gallagher stepped up and added the extra’s from the touchline, continuing his fine kicking form.
West Leeds were then plagued by handling errors and indecisive kicking, gifting crocs territorial advantage eventually leading to a penalty deep in the visitors half, Joe Gallagher then slotted with ease.
The Crocs continued their momentum spurred by poor handing from the visitors, following strong drives from Mark Boothroyd and Martin Hamer the ball was moved quickly wide for the ever-present Rob Oliver to find space and race over from 20 metres out, Joe Gallagher again added the extras.
West Leeds once again became their own worst enemy following loss of possession of their line out midfield. Crocs quickly countered and the inform Cam Brannan broke through a ruck in midfield combining cleverly with the supporting scrum half Joe Stott who following a neat chip kick finished an excellent individual try, Joe Gallagher again adding the conversion.
Within the blink of an eye the visitors were now in trouble and facing a crocs team who were more clinical and powerful in attack.
It wasn’t long before crocs scrum half further piled on the misery for the visitors following a blind side attack where Joe Stott raced past the West Leeds cover defence and with just the full back to beat neatly put his supporting winger George Ackroyd into the clear to race over for another well taken try, and gaining the home team a bonus point before half time.
Despite the score line West Leeds started to show hunger for a score and following several phases against a resolute Crocs defence they eventually earned a line-out close to the Crocs line. The West Leeds pack then showed their strength and piled over from short range to register their first score, this soon became the half time score following some free-flowing rugby from both sides.
Crocs started the second half with gusto and their driving forwards who were now cleverly shifting the point of attack from quick ruck ball were proving too much to handle for the visitors and following well worked phases through the strong drives of Nick Faulkner and Roland Marki the crocs were able to exploit extra numbers on their right edge and Matthew Beswick crashed over in the corner to score.
Joe Gallagher again added the extra 2 points making the score 38–5 to the Crocs.
The game then entered a distinct period of ‘attack and defence’, with West Leeds launching repeated sorties of attacks on the back of a heavy penalty count, 12-0 in the visitors favor, and following an inevitable yellow card for the home teams’ repeated indiscretions West Leeds eventually made the pressure count scoring from a marathon of drives close to the crocs line.
Crocs eventually weathered the storm and quickly swung defence into attack following several strong forward drives headed by Joe Buckle who won a penalty for an alleged high tackle. The ball was kicked to the corner for a line out short of the visitors line. The well worked line out then set up several forward drives with Sam Ives and James Hinchcliffe proving a handful for the defence, then following a slow ruck Rob Oliver steamed onto a short pass to exploit some poor close ruck defence to score.
West Leeds to their credit kept probing the crocs defence but this remained resolute to the end resulting in another dominant victory for the Broomfield men.
An enthralling encounter at Blue Hill Lane saw Crocs’ second string gain their 16th consecutive victory as they beat West Leeds Seconds 21-15.
It wasn’t pretty but it was a case of job done for Halifax Vandals as they left Hemsworth with a 31-20 bonus point win.
Having come firing out the blocks to race into a 14-0 lead, it looked like the Vandals were on course to register back-to-back 50-plus point victories, having seen off Sheffield Medicals 59-7 a week before.
Full credit to Hemsworth, though, who belied their lowly position in the league to regroup and caused the visitors a host of problems.
Another week of changes due to unavailabilities - including new half-back, back row and centre partnerships for the fourth successive game - certainly didn’t help the Vandals however tries from Aaron Carrington, Joe Bryson, George Clapham, Tony McAspurn and Ben Burnside meant the coaches were at least be pleased with the result, if not the performance.
The Vandals had got off to the ideal start as the hosts failed to gather the opening kick-off and the pack snaffled up the loose ball. Olly Coyne, Paul Jowett and Isaac Pollard drove at the heart of the home defence, before Carrington applied the finishing touch from a yard. Ryan Arnold slotted over the extras.
The second try soon followed, with Hemsworth shoved off their own ball at the scrum allowing the Vandals to pick and drive towards the line. This time, Bryson was on hand to power over. Arnold added the conversion.
Hemsworth began to work their way back into the encounter but the Vandals defence held firm, while a shot at goal sailed just wide. And it was the Vandals defence that set up the third try, with a big hit from Luke Sutcliffe seeing the ball spilt. Clapham pounced to fly-hack it up field twice, with a favourable bounce allowing him to dive over. Arnold added the extras.
Any hopes this would kill off the Hemsworth resistance failed to materialise as the hosts crossed for a good team try just before half-time. The conversion made it 21-7 at the break.
Hemsworth had their tails up and a penalty, followed by another try after some poor defending from Vandals suddenly cut the gap to the six points.
The Vandals, guilty of switching off, attempted to find a foothold back into the match and they thought they had it when a beautiful chip over the top was regathered by McAspurn for the bonus point try.
Hemsworth, though, had other ideas. A missed shot at goal was followed by a series of quick taps from close range, with the home side eventually getting the ball down to cut the deficit to six again.
However the Vandals finally made sure with eight minutes left as Burnside crashed over after the pack had again done the hard yards.
Next up will be Skipton at home, with the North Yorkshire side registering the result of the day as they ended Castleford’s unbeaten start to the season.