ANOTHER loss for Heathfield & Waldron against the second placed team in the league will be partially compensated by a decent all round performance, with the score not reflecting the overall run of play.
The early exchanges were quiet with no clear dominance in any area although the home team suffered a serious early blow with the loss to injury of their scrum half. They also had an early penalty chance that drifted wide. At the end of the first quarter a break by Tom Sheffield saw him make good ground, until he was brought down by a high tackle. Ethan Walker confidently collected the first points for the visitors. However, the home team were starting to secure plentiful possession at this stage and in the next 15 minutes they scored two tries in the right corner through quick ball and by flooding the short side with runners. One of these tries was converted (12-3). In between these tries, Park also had a penalty come back off the post. However, the half ended with increasing pressure from Heathfield, chiefly through the pack including the first of several balls against the head at the scrum. Nevertheless, the home team could look forward to the second half with the advantage of the slight slope. This looked to be justified when their kicker finally turned his radar on for a penalty (15-3). But Heathfield now had their best period in the game with the majority of possession and eventually good hands gave Harry Clewley a relatively straightforward opportunity to collect a try on his first start at this level (15-10). Heathfield had entered the game with limited lineout options following several injuries.
Bruce Pestell did well to secure some possession but otherwise this was a difficult area for the visitors.
The scrum was becoming a focus in the game as Richard Cooley increasingly ruined his opposing and much larger tight head. Several balls were achieved against the head as well as some penalties for front row infringements. Heathfield were now camped in the home 22 and as the game entered the last quarter a straightforward penalty by Walker was fair reward (15-13).
But just as it looked as though the game was turning Heathfield’s way, the home team showed why they are having such a good year, with good support play resulting in a try in the left had corner, again converted (20-13).
Continued Heathfield pressure resulted in a home flanker receiving a yellow card but the visitors were unable to take advantage. Indeed, as the last minutes ticked down, Park achieved good field position and collected their bonus point try with the last play of the game. The Heathfield back division currently includes a number of talented youthful players who will undoubtedly develop as they gain important experience. The team will now focus on the remaining four games, three of which are at home against teams in the bottom half of the table.
Tomorrow (Saturday, 3pm) Heathfield & Waldron entertain Old Midwhitgiftians who last weekend collected just their second win of the season.
ALL RESULTS (London 3 SE): Brighton 15-3 Aylesford Bulls; Charlton Park 27-13 Heathfield & Waldron; Lewes 22-East Grinstead 42; Old Dunstonians 26-32 Warlingham; Old Mid-Whitgiftian 36-20 Sevenoaks; Tunbridge Wells 6-7 Deal & Betteshanger.