Rugby Union: Heath lose to Cleckheaton after last-minute try
A last minute try from Cleckheaton denied Heath victory as the home side lost 28-24.
Cleckheaton arrived at North Dean looking to avenge a home defeat by Heath back in October, while Heath were going in search of getting back onto the winning trail following a home defeat last week against league leaders Driffield.
Eddie Cartwright returned at full back and Oliver Scrimshaw also had a start following the late withdrawal of Alex Bull. There were also starts for Seif Boussaada and Alex McFadden as Jack Pilcher and Will McLoughlin took a stint on the bench alongside the evergreen Si Brown.
In glorious sunny conditions Heath kicked off playing towards the Stainland Road end and as the visitors collected the ball they made it clear they were up for the challenge moving it along the lines and scoring an unconverted try in the corner to lead 5-0 with only three minutes on the clock.
Heath responded, making inroads into the Cleckheaton half but could not break a resolute defence.
The visitors were obviously pumped up for the game and put pressure on a rather frail looking home defence and from a drop out by Heath, the ball was collected on the half way line and an audacious drop kick attempt sailed over the bar to increase Cleck's lead to 8-0 with 13 minutes played.
Heath reacted and when Callum Harriott-Brown and Joe Morrison linked up the ball came out to Elliott Spiers who jinked his way towards the try-line.
Back up came from the Heath forwards but, with a try believed to have been scored, the referee judged the ball was held up and the visitors survived.
Heath were now taking charge and when Matt Beasty won line ball out there was a surge towards to line before the visitors managed once again to clear their lines.
Next up, following a mistake from the visitors on the half way line, Jason Merrie kicked through and gave chase before Cleckheaton covered and cleared.
It was all Heath and they were eventually rewarded with a penalty conversion from Eddie Cartwright to reduce the arrears 8-3 with 25 minutes on the clock.
Heath were in control at this point with the forwards commanding the scums and when Jonny Cole broke from one, he scored a deserved try to level the scores on the half hour mark.
Eddie Cartwrights conversion attempt hit the post and bounced to safety but Heath had drawn level 8-8 and all to play for.
Jack Pilcher replaced Alex McFadden as the game re-started but before he could get into the game Cleckheaton responded with a converted try on 34 minutes to lead 15-8.
Heath came back with a missed penalty and, as Jason Merrie had to leave the field with an injury, Will McLoughlin entered the fray in this ding dong battle as half time approached.
The Heath forwards were in control and Cleckheaton could not cope with the onslaught giving away penalties before Eddie Cartwright converted one to reduce the arrears, 15-11.
The home side were not finished and urged by the large contingent of home supporters and following a super kick clearance from Eddie Cartwright the ball rolled into touch 5 metres from the visitors try-line.
This was an opportunity Heath had to take and when Matt Beasty collected the ball Heath drove forwards before Jack Pilcher popped up with the ball and a try in the corner.
Cartwright added the extras, with a superb conversion from the touch line, and Heath fully deserved their lead 18-15 as the referee blew for half time.
It had been a pulsating half as both teams took a deserved break and the large crowd were expectant of another forty minutes of the same.
They were not to be denied as Cleckheaton began the half strongly and following yet another drop kick attempt on 45 minutes they were rewarded with a penalty conversion minutes later to level the scores 18-18.
The visitors continued to press the home defence and took the lead on 55 minutes with yet another penalty conversion, this time from the half way line, to re-take the lead 21-18.
Si Brown came on for Olly Scrimshaw as coach Harry shuffled his back line but Cleckheaton were turning the screw and taking charge with a quarter of the game left to play.
Heath did manage to claw their way back into the game when Cartwright added another penalty to level the scores 21-21 on 70 minutes but Cleckheaton were looking strong.
Paul Turner made way for Alex McFadden but the pressure on the home defence was piling up.
A drop kick attempt from the visitors went wide but with minutes remaining it looked as if Heath had snatched the win following a super penalty conversion from Eddie Cartwright on the half way line the ball sailed between the posts and a score of 24-21.
However, the visitors were not finished and from the re-start took possession of the ball and went through numerous phases of play, pulling the home defence apart, and came up with a converted try in the last minute 28-24 to deny Heath the win they so wanted.
This was a pulsating derby from start to finish but credit to Cleckheaton with their never say die approach to the game to grab the win.
The defeat takes Heath out of the top three as they prepare for yet another derby encounter when they travel to Woodhead next week to take on Old Brodleians.
Heath seconds lost 50-0 at Cleckheaton.