Rugby round-up: Heath stay top, Old Crossleyans win but defeat for Rishies

Heath ground out another win to maintain top spot as they beat Morpeth 20-15.

By Tom Scargill
Monday, 31st January 2022, 9:03 am
Updated Monday, 31st January 2022, 9:04 am
Heath v Morpeth
Heath v Morpeth

Heath once again had to shuffle the pack, following the loss of Fergus Marsden, Jonny Cole and Jason Merrie from last week's game and so drafted in Jack Raby and Ian Downsborough for starting berths with Martyn Barnes, Eddie Cartwright and George Heron on the bench.

It was the first time Morpeth had visited North Dean and in fine, sunny conditions they kicked off with Heath playing towards the river end.

Early exchanges were even as both teams tested each other out but it was the visitors who scored first with an opening converted try after eight minutes following a couple of mistakes from the home side defence.

Heath v Morpeth

From the re-start Heath managed to get possession and began to put together several phases of play as they went in search of a score. Morpeth were guilty of giving away several penalties to try and keep Heath at bay but the home side were patient and following solid work from Paul Turner, Ian Downsborough and Jack Pilcher Morpeth were struggling.

From a line out Saif Boussadda collected the ball and the drive was on and it was Will McLaughlin who controlled the ball to go over for a well worked try.

A super conversion from Alex Bull levelled the scores 7-7 with 20 minutes played.

The next period of play was even with both sides testing each other out. Morpeth had an opportunity to take the lead with a penalty but the kick was missed.

Scarborough v Old Brods. Photo: Robin Sugden. Cole Wilson

Heath replied when Jack Raby had a strong run before releasing Elliott Spiers who set off on a typical jinking run but he was stopped just short of the line.

Heath were still pushing for a score and were rewarded when Alex Bull converted a difficult penalty and the home side led 10-7 with thirty-five minutes on the clock. Half time arrived with no further score.

Heath began the second half strong with Alex Bull putting in a superb kick which found touch by the visitors corner flag. Heath won the line out and pressed forwards but Morpeth hung on and cleared the ball.

The visitors were now looking for a score and were rewarded with a penalty conversion on fifty minutes to level the scores, 10-10.

Scarborough v Old Brods. Photo: Robin Sugden. Alex Dawson

Heath were guilty of some sloppy mistakes and were being punished by the visitors.

Eddie Cartwright replaced Callum Harriott-Brown and was immediately involved in Heath's next attack, linking well with Alex Bull and Elliott Spiers.

Heath were now beginning to turn the screw as the visitors struggled to contain them and had a player sin-binned, resulting in Alex Bull converting the penalty and the home side led 13-10 on the hour mark.

Heath pressure continued with Ian Downsborough and Joe Morrison making yardage and when Joe Shipman won the ball from a Morpeth line out they drove for the try-line.

Morpeth were struggling to stop the charge and it came as no surprise to see Will McLaughlin scoop the ball up from the back of a scum to score his second try, converted by Bull and Heath looked home and dry, 20 10 with ten minutes left to play.

George Heron and Martyn Barnes replaced Ian Downsborough and Chris Moore.

Much to Morpeth's credit they kept battling and were rewarded with a try, 20-15, with five minutes remaining.

Heath now had to keep possession of the ball and wind the clock down - which they did successfully and were happy to hear the final whistle.

Heath retain top spot in the league with Ilkley moving up to second, level on points and with a game in hand. With a week off it will give time for the coaching team to get players back as they prepare to visit Ilkley.

Rishworthians came away with a losing bonus point after looking at half-time as though they might end up victorious in their 12-6 defeat at Dinnington.

The whole game was dominated by the fierce gale of Storm Malik blowing down the length of the field.

It meant neither side could kick the ball out of defence as it would be blown back.

Rishworthians chose to play up the slope into the teeth of the gale and defended brilliantly as Dinnington threw everything at them.

It was a good opening 10 minutes for the visitors, who twice forced their way deep into the home half, but once they conceded a penalty they found themselves having to defend on their own line.

They stuck to the task inspired by some great play from flanker Ethan Pollard.

However they seemed to be able to do little to please referee Rod Stables and their mounting penalty count proved a major factor in the game.

A missed goal attempt saw the ball retrieved by Dinnington from the drop-out and they ran through for a converted try.

Undeterred Rishworthians fought their way back against the wind and slope with centre Doug Heseltine almost getting through with a strong run.

It looked like they might get to the break only seven points behind until another penalty put them back on their own line and with the last play of the half a catch and drive brought a second try for the home side.

Rishworthians opened the second period confidently, the touchline denying wing Oliver Marshall.

From then though the big home pack started to take charge and good possession dried up and when they had the ball they struggled to break through, being penalised time and again.

Eventually they gained penalties themselves and Josh Kelly was successful with two out of three wind-assisted long range kicks.

There were strong runs by prop Jack Smart, hooker Toby Muscat-Baron, flanker Greg Withers and centre Andrew Esmond, but they were unable to make further inroads.

In the end the strength of the home pack and the high penalty count wore them out.

Right at the end they were almost over but infringed in the eyes of the referee.

At Copley, the Development team had a strong 5-0 win over Heath seconds thanks

to a try from Thomas Jowle and an outstanding try-saving tackle by Anthony Shoesmith.

Old Crossleyans won 28-19 at an in-form Goole, who were unbeaten in their last four games.

Conditions were appalling with 70mph gusts from storm Malik running through the pitch, try to try line.

It was clearly to be a game of tactics and discipline given the ease to gain territory from the gusty conditions.

The Crocs elected to play with the wind in the first half, so pressure was immediately on to get the score board moving in their favour.

Unfortunately, it was Goole though who shocked the visitors with an early try following a string of penalties conceded at the breakdown, incurring an early yellow card for Joe Buckle.

Luckily for the visitors Goole were unable to convert, so keeping the score to 5-0.

The Crocs quickly regrouped and started to play intelligent, high precision rugby, and it wasn’t long before Goole were being tested.

A series of strong drives from Billy Hammond and Rob Faulkner created space for the supporting back rower Rob Oliver who raced under the posts to register early points for the Crocs. Joe Gallagher converted, taking the score to 5-7.

Momentum stayed with the Crocs and following a fumble from a clever high kick from Joe Gallagher, Crocs were awarded a scrum from 30m out.

Billy Hammond then struck, picking the ball, he raced through the Goole defenders leaving would be tacklers in his wake to score a superb individual try from 30 metres out.

The score now up to 5-14 following another successful conversion.

Goole then ceased on some Crocs’ indiscipline and with their powerful forwards started to mount a bombardment of drives stemming from clean ruck ball.

The resolute bone crunching defence from Sam Ives, Tom Metcalf and Nick Faulkner helped minimise the impact from the Goole forwards.

Then defence turned quickly into attack when Goole failed to clear their own ball and Jack Hammond counter attacked moving the ball quickly into space, Rob Oliver, again in support then neatly linked with supporting paceman Callum Dunne, who raced 40 metres to score another excellent try, again converted by Joe Gallagher stretching the lead to 5-21.

Goole struggled to build any momentum in the stiff breeze and were also struggling to gain any platform form their scrum.

The Crocs kept up their intensity searching for the next score which soon came following another act of individual brilliance from Josh Hunt. The Crocs’ full back found himself outnumbered and with few options available elected to chip kick over the defenders, regather and score unopposed from 30m out.

This now stretched the lead to 5-28 and ended the scoring in the first half.

The second half started with the crocs’ playing the smart rugby in hand, driving and recycling with the help of centre Jack Hammond and rallied by their pack leader Joe Buckle.

Goole had to be patient as the Crocs pondered through their phases with remarkable discipline.

Following a rare expansive move from the Crocs resulting in Josh Hunt being isolated Goole then snapped up possession and began to take momentum.

During this phase the Crocs lost their key forward and organiser Joe Buckle, who suffered concussion following a reckless Goole clear out targeting his head and neck.

This was unfortunately unpunished as was not seen by the referee. Joe Buckle, following some treatment on field was forced to retire from the game.

This proved a turning point for the Crocs as Goole then started to find their winning form that so far had eluded them.

It was now all about defending effectively and seeing out the game.

Goole managed to register two tries in the later stages of the half, but it all proved too little too late for the home team with time quickly running out.

The Crocs defence remained resolute and their fitness clearly showed as the final whistle eventually sounded with the final score 19-28 to the Crocs.