Rugby round-up: Heath secure historic promotion, Rishies draw try-fest and Crocs lose at Boro

Heath were promoted from North One East after sealing a superb second placed finish in the table.

By Tom Scargill
Monday, 25th April 2022, 10:48 am
Updated Monday, 25th April 2022, 11:08 am
Heath celebrate after the game

Heath drew 31-31 at Pocklington to leave them second after Driffield lost against Scarborough.

They will now be playing at their highest ever level, and it is thought the highest level for any amateur side in Halifax.

Heath travelled over to East Yorkshire looking for two points to secure a promotion spot but had to overcome an in form Pocklington team.

Sign up to our daily Halifax Courier Today newsletter

Action from Heath's game

Paul Turner was unavailable so George Heron had a starting berth at prop in an otherwise unchanged team.

The atmosphere around the ground was tense in the warm up session and a large contingent of Heath supporters had travelled to hopefully witness a competitive encounter, but many were hoping there would not be a repeat of the West Hartlepool result a couple of seasons ago.

In sunny conditions Pocklington kicked off playing with a strong wind at their backs and in a tense opening few minutes it was the home side who took advantage - scoring a converted try after four minutes to lead 7-0. Heath were struggling contain them and conceded a second converted try on eight minutes - 14-0.

From the re-start the Pocklington wing put a foot in touch as he was catching the ball and from the resulting line out Matt Beasty soared high to secure possession and Heath drove towards the home try-line.

Jack Smart scoring Rishies' opening try. Photo: Sarah Bake

Pocklington gave away a penalty and from the resulting scrum the Heath forwards controlled the ball and, as the Pocklington pack crumbled, the referee had no option but to award a penalty try, 14-7, with 12 minutes on the clock.

Pocklington came back strongly, but Heath had adjusted to the pace of the game and were resilient and looked solid as they defended their lines.

With 25 minutes played coach Harry sent on Jack Pilcher, Seif Boussaada and Jason Merrie with Matt Beasty, Will McLaughlin and George Heron having a welcome break.

Heath were gradually making inroads into the Pocklington defence and a super run from Elliott Spiers, supported by Callum Harriott-Brown, set up another onslaught.

Matty Beswick - Middlesbrough v Old Crossleyans

The ball came out to Tom Owen who was held up just short of the line but Jack Pilcher was on hand to gain valuable yardage before Jason Merrie backed this up with a try, converted by Alex Bull, and Heath were level 14-14 with 30 minutes played.

It was a real battle between two committed sides and it was Pocklington who came back strongly mounting yet another attack and following a superb 50-20 kick they had an opportunity to re-take the lead.

However, Heath were in no mood to concede and with half time approaching both sides were happy to take a welcome break.

It was Heath's turn to have the wind advantage as both teams took to the field for the second half with the game still in the balance.

Heath had the first opportunity for a score following a clever kick and chase from Joe Morrison the ball found touch.

From the line out Heath collected and drove for the try-line and Chris Moore was on hand to secure a try in the corner and following an excellent conversion from Alex Bull Heath took the lead 21-14 with 45 minutes played.

Heath were in rampant mood and Bull added a penalty conversion 24-14 with 52 minutes played.

However, the home side were in no mood to give in and responded with a converted try under the posts following several phases of play with Heath stretched, 24-21 with 57 minutes on the clock.

From the re-start Bull kicked deep and the home side were content to punt the ball back up field where Jason Merrie collected it, on the half way line.

What happened next stunned the crowd as Merrie set off on a barnstorming run, powering through and over attempted tackles from the home side to score a bonus point fourth try - again converted by Bull and Heath led 31- 21 on the hour mark.

Chris Moore left the field with an injury, so George Heron came back on to join in the battle with both teams looking for yet another score as the clock ticked down. Jason Merrie was next to leave the field with Will McLaughlin again entering the battle as Pocklington kept beavering away with Heath were guilty of kicking the ball deep allowing the home side to build up attacks.

They were rewarded with an unconverted try on 75 minutes 31-26.

It was nervy times for the Heath supporters as the Heath team laid their bodies on the line to protect their lead but, in the dying seconds, after Pocklington won a line out ball, as they drove towards the Heath try-line it looked like a home try. At first the referee disallowed it ruling the ball was held up but, following consultation with the neutral linesman, he changed his decision and awarded Pocklington the try. Heartbreak and de-ja vu West Hartlepool.

The scores were level and with a vital conversion attempt to follow the Heath players were dejected. The attempt was well struck but the direction was off target and the score remained 31-31 as the final whistle sounded Heath players and supporters erupted into euphoria.

The game ended even and Pocklington, who had been resilient throughout, must be congratulated on their performance.

That said the league points gained by Heath were enough to secure the prize of promotion. It has been a long hard season with many highs and lows but this will go down as one to never forget.

Other results saw Ilkley secure the championship with Heath ending up in second place following the defeat of Driffield at Scarborough, who finished third.

Heath Seconds wrapped up their season with a 22-12 win at Kirkby Lonsdale.

Rishworthians finished their season with a try-fest at Copley, overcoming a 19-point deficit, and could have won it at the end.

The two teams have been almost inseparable in results and lie next to each other in mid-table with Rishworthians having the advantage of being one point ahead, so a draw would seem a fitting result.

The home side might have won right at the end, but Josh Kelly’s long range penalty attempt drifted wide. Rishworthians blew two gilt-edged try-scoring opportunities in the first half, while handing three tries on a plate to the visitors.

In the opening minutes a try seemed certain after a brilliant move in the home backs, but the ball went loose with the line beckoning.

Beverley took the lead with a penalty and after that all the damage was done by their back three of fullback Luke Hazell and wings Jacob Holmes and Jacob Baggs, whose pace left Rishworthians grasping for thin air.

The Copley men made the mistake of letting the ball bounce and Hazell was quick to put Holmes in for the first converted try.

But they came back strongly with some fine play in the backs involving Kelly and Jacob Bower, on return from college, who was once again outstanding. He linked well in the centre with Doug Heseltine, who again had a fine game in both attack and defence. It won them a penalty. The goal kick was declined and from the ensuing lineout, they drove over with hooker Jack Smart, who had his best game of the season, touching down.

Straight from the restart Beverley won the ball and Holmes was in again for a converted try. Rishworthians blew another chance and from a dropped ball Baggs was too quick for the defence and ran in a third converted try.

Nineteen points down, Rishworthians came to life and suddenly there were two tries for Bower, both converted by Kelly to make it 19-24 at half-time.

Soon after the restart, the pace of Holmes put Beverley further ahead. He gathered the ball in his own 22 and ran the length of the field, leaving the home defence leaden-footed for another converted try to stretch the lead to 12 points.

Again Rishworthians came back and replacement Simanu Tusiga forced his way over for a home bonus point try, converted by Kelly.

Beverley quickly restored the 12-point advantage, with the outstanding Hazell running in a fifth converted try.

Rishworthians were far from done however and scrum half Arthur Wilkinson was there to dart through and score. Kelly was told to take a drop goal conversion to save time, but it went wide.

The pressure was maintained and Tusiga forced his way over again and Kelly converted to level the scores.

From the restart there was still time for Rishworthians to gain a penalty, but the kick to win the game went wide.

Middlesbrough 29 – 12 Old Crossleyans lost their top-of-the-table clash 29-12 at Middlesbrough.

Boro, who were also mourning the loss of their club legend Dave Waddington, were looking to secure the league title and championship trophy with a home victory.

Despite the emotional backdrop to the fixture, it was the Crocs who dominated possession and territory in the first 20 minutes.

Strong driving runs from Sam Ives and Fischa Gandolfo tested the home defence which was seemingly impenetrable.

The outside back of Chris Vine, Matthew Beswick and George Ackroyd posed constant threats but Boro’s defence remained determined and strong from one to 15.

Crocs then suffered an injury blow following a sniping Run by scrum half Joe Stott which unfortunately led to a head injury following a clash with a knee, the crocs were forced to reorganise with Chris Vine slipping into the scrum half role and Billy Hammond filling in at centre.

The momentum then started to shift with Middlesbrough, who started to see more of the ball releasing their scintillating, mesmeric back line.

It wasn’t long before the classy Boro backs outstretched the Crocs defence to register their first try which was converted, giving Boro an 7-0 lead, arguably against the run of play.

Joe Gallagher’s clever kicking from hand helped crocs re-build their attack but it was Boro’s dazzling back line that once again cut through the Crocs defence leading to another well worked second try, taking the score to 14-0 at half time.

The Crocs started the second half with similar intensity, helped by the outstanding Boj Sembi’s direct running which helped create quick ruck ball for the Crocs. Despite the pressure it was Boro though who were more clinical with ball in hand and again their backs struck from a long-range counter, stretching their lead to 21-0.

Boro again added a penalty kick following indiscipline at the breakdown, stretching the lead further, 24-0.

The Crocs though never looked out of contention, just the final pass and poor decision making wasn’t up to usual standards, and Boro made them pay for all mistakes.

The Crocs finally got their reward, following a long period of pressure on the Boro try line, when a clever wide pass from Joe Gallagher found winger Tom Metcalf who dived over to score, taking the score to 24-5.

Any thought of a come back though was dealt a killer blow on the 70th minute when another well worked Boro try stretched their lead to 29-5.

The Crocs though finished strongly and following two Boro yellow cards, it was the Crocs who dominated possession and territory. Ruben Pollard then showed his strength to drive over from short range to score, reducing the lead to 29-12.

It was all too little too late for the crocs as Boro’s defence proved too hard to penetrate earning them the victory and a much-deserved league title.