Heath maintain top three spot with successful first visit to Paviors

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Heath maintained their challenge at the top of Regional One North East with a 38-19 success away to Paviors.

They were forced to make changes following the late withdrawal of Eddie Cartwright, with Jack Bruce drafted in from the seconds to play on the wing, with Elliott Spiers moving to full back. The forwards saw Olly Cook make his first start of the season at prop and Ian Downsborough also had a starting berth in the second row.

Paviors found life in the league difficult initially, but in recent games had improved performances so were expected to test Heath on their first visit to the ground.

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Heath seemed ready for the battle ahead and were quickly in control as Elliott Spiers linked up with Callum Harriott-Brown to make inroads into the home defence.

Jason Merrie scored the first try for Heath in their win away to Paviors. Picture: Dave GarforthJason Merrie scored the first try for Heath in their win away to Paviors. Picture: Dave Garforth
Jason Merrie scored the first try for Heath in their win away to Paviors. Picture: Dave Garforth

A try beckoned following good work by Chris Johnson and Dom Walsh, but winger Bruce was bundled into touch. Fergus Marsden set off on a steamrolling run to set up another attack before superb inter-passing enabled Jason Merrie to cross the line for a try, converted by Johnson.

The visitors continued to throw the ball around and were rewarded when Olly Cook scored a second try after 14 minutes, again converted by Johnson.

Paviors responded and looked to have scored a try but the referee ruled this out. However, following a long punt forward the ball bounced favourably for the home side and they went over for a converted try.

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Heath responded immediately with a converted penalty from Johnson to extend their lead to 17-7.

On the half-hour mark Saif Boussadda and Paul Turner replaced Ian Downsborough and Olly Cook and they were quickly into action as Paviors went in search of another score.

Heath withstood the pressure and a superb break from Joe Morrison saw him make 50 metres before he released the supporting Ben Stringer, who was illegally tackled to lead to Paviors going down to 14 players.

From the re-start, Heath opted for a scrum and with the forwards in control the ball came out via Dom Wash to Joe Morrison and he slipped it to Bruce who went in for a try, once again converted by Johnson to make it 24-7 at half-time.

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The second half began perfectly for Heath when Bruce received the ball on the half-way line and, following an outrageous dummy, sprinted for the line to go under the posts for the try of the game. Johnson added the extras and a score of 31-7 seemed out of reach for the home side.

However, they had other ideas and again mounted another attack only for Johnson to clear the lines with a huge kick to find touch.

Paviors continued to press and Boussadda received a yellow card on 55 minutes in a desperate attempt to prevent the home side from scoring.

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The visitors broke out as Tom Owen went on a run and the supporting Rondene Johnson battered the home defence. Paul Turner and Alex McFadden made serious inroads, but a break from Paviors saw Merrie carded for a dangerous tackle and Heath were down to 13.

From the resulting re-start Paviors stormed forward and were rewarded with a try to reduce the arrears to 31-12 with 15 minutes remaining.

Once again Heath responded and Elliott Knight went on a jinking run before being halted just short of the line.

Boussadda returned to help shore up the defence as Paviors went in search of adding to their score and, with Heath struggling, Cook received a yellow card as the home side were awarded a penalty try.

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With Heath down to 13 again they responded with gusto and against all the odds they won a scrum near the Paviors try-line. The ball came out to Elliott Spiers who glided over for a fifth try, this time converted by Dom Walsh.

The bonus point win sees Heath maintain third spot, level on points with Alnwick in second. Next up is a Friday night game against Sandal with a 7.45pm kick off.

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