Rugby union: Heath leave it late to secure success

Heath 14 Ilkley 13

HEATH launched a late smash and grab raid to gain a Yorkshire One victory they didn't deserve.

Matt Hallett's all-important conversion of Giles Hetherington's touch down was the game's last act and strengthened the West Vale side's hold on fourth place in the table.

Heath had also scored a converted try at the start of this first home league game for almost two months, but in between the visitors were in charge for long spells thanks to stand off Phil Howell's kicking game and dominance at the breakdown.

"We've work to do," conceded Heath coach Kevin Plant, whose side had been "nilled" at Keighley the previous Saturday and again failed to recapture their pre-Christmas form.

"We lost out in the contact areas and couldn't string together any phases of play."

Things had started so promisingly for the hosts on a soggy afternoon, centre Martin Moana running over his opposite number and passing inside for flanker Ollie Wilby to cross close to the posts, winger Darren Fermoyle converting.

Fermoyle might have made it 10-0 after eight minutes but missed a decent penalty opportunity and Ilkley, looking to win back the five points they have been deducted recently, found their stride.

They made ground on the back of successive penalty awards and drew level on 13 minutes from a scrum in front of the posts on the 22, ex-Huddersfield No 8 Hamish Pratt striding over and fullback Peter Shanks adding the goal.

Ilkley held a territorial advantage for much of the remainder of the half, thanks to Howell's diagonal kicks towards the corner, the dominance of their back row and an ability to send the Heath scrum spinning like a catherine wheel.

Shanks missed a couple of tricky penalty attempts in quick success and the home side were relieved to turn round at 7-7, successfully defending a five metre scrum late in the half.

Shanks sent another penalty narrowly left early in the second half but a struggling lineout added to Heath's problems and it seemed only a matter of time before Ilkley put more points on the board.

That happened on 51 minutes after winger Rich Greenfield had gathered scrum half Kirk Arundale's chip over the top. Although home number 10 Hetherington gathered Greenfield's inside pass in front of the posts, Ilkley won a penalty and Shanks seized an easy opportunity to put the visitors 10-7 up.

Fermoyle was unable to hit the target from 35 metres two minutes later but Heath were raising their game, helped by more possession but of modest quality.

Tom McLean just beat Fermoyle to a kick into the in-goal area from Hetherington, whose cross-field run then paved the way for a touchline dash from Simon Brown.

Shanks gave Ilkley a little more breathing space with his second penalty on 72 minutes.

Heath looked incapable of hitting back but the yellow carding of experienced visiting flanker Neil Spence and a string of penalty awards in the closing stages helped them mount late pressure.

Almost inevitably, it was the influential Hetherington who found a way through the Ilkley defence to touch down to the right of the posts, leaving the conversion to decide the outcome.

Plant had been surprised to see Fermoyle taking the earlier shots at goal in preference to Hallett, who was handed the role at the key moment.

Given the pressure and conditions it looked an even money chance whether the fullback would ensure a winning farewell for blind side flanker Joe Shipman, who is heading Down Under. But Hallett, arguably the pick of the home side on the day, proved up to the task.

HEATH seconds also grabbed a late score to beat their Wheatley Hills counterparts 14-12 at West Vale.