Haywards Heath RFC take pride despite cup final loss

Haywards Heath can hold their heads high despite losing the Bob Rogers Sussex Cup final 29-20 to Horsham twos.

It was a momentous effort by the Heath team who fronted up well against a bigger and well organised side and they will learn a huge amount having taken part in such a tight final.

Heath chairman Mark Newey said: “I am so proud of how the boys played at what was a magnificent occasion for Sussex rugby.

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“The team really stood up to the challenge and were pure class both on and off the pitch. Congratulations to Horsham and thank you to Sussex RFU and Crawley Rugby Club for organising and hosting the final.”

Haywards Heath RFC line up for the cup final

Finals day featured teams from Newick, St Francis, East Grinstead and Hove competing for the Vase and Shield as the pre-cursor to the cup final.

Quarter and semi-final wins for Heath over Hastings & Bexhill and Hove saw them reach the final for the first time in many years.

Half the Heath side were under-19, including four of this year’s colts, where almost half the Horsham squad had experience in playing four divisions higher at London one level this season, so the final was always going to be tough.

Heath and Horsham had a great battle

Heath were their own worst enemy and from the kick off were unable to clear their 22. Soon a penalty for not releasing was kicked to the corner and from the lineout the ball was recycled two phases for one of the big Horsham ball carriers to smash through and go over for 0-5.

From the restart Horsham knocked on and conceded a penalty in front of their posts. Outside half Tom Wharton slotted it for Heath to reduce the deficit to 3-5.

Horsham broke through the midfield where a couple of missed tackles saw their outside centre streak clear for a score, 3-10.

Action from the final

From the restart a Horsham mistake handed the advantage to Heath and eventually Wilf Bridges emerged from the bottom of the pile having touched down out wide. Wharton banged over the conversion to square things up at 10-10.

Horsham were reduced to 14 men and Heath drove deep into Horsham territory where they forced another penalty. Wharton calmly stroked it over for a 13-10 lead.

Horsham came out for the second half in determined fashion and Heath had a man in the bin for disagreeing with the referee. Horsham managed to breach the Heath line for a try which was converted for a 13-17 lead.

Horsham eventually bulldozed over for another score, 13-22.

Soon Heath MoM Wilf Bridges beat the cover defence to the line then beat three more defenders to score under the posts. Wharton converted to make it 20-22.

A Heath mistake saw Horsham kick to the corner and from that lineout they were able to score again, converted for a 20 -29 lead.

Heath kept striving for the breakthrough right to the end but just didn’t have enough physicality or experience and Horsham held on.