So tough for Heath but Hillopen their league account

Haywards Heath’s testing start to the season was not going to get much tougher than last Saturday’s visit to leaders Gravesend, where they lost 5-74, but at least Burgess Hill opened their account in the London League at the second attempt.

The All Blacks were disappointed not to score a try but their 12-3 victory at home to Uckfield was encouraging, especially as their set-piece was working well.

Both teams looked nervous and Hill’s plentiful supply of ball, especially in the opening half hour, was squandered by handling errors.

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Two Will Pearson penalties were their only compensation, one 40 metres out and the other on the 5 after the visiting No 8 was sin-binned for repeated infringements.

Uckfield replied with a penalty of their own as they rallied in the last 10 minutes of the half and at the start of the second half they threw the kitchen sink at their hosts.

It was one-way traffic for 25 minutes and the All Blacks lost Adam Rezazadeh to the bin for a team offence. But the defence held firm and Uckfield never looked like scoring.

Hill then bucked up in the last 15 minutes, with Pearson kicking two more penalties, the second from a ruck infringement after they had opted for a scrum rather than a kick when an Uckfield winger was sin-binned for a team offence.

This Saturday Hill travel to Gillingham Anchorians.

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The 2nds made the long trip to Rye and despite losing the previous week’s top points scorer, Chris Bowles, to a hamstring injury in the warm-up, they went 10-0 up in the first two minutes and stormed to another big win (49-5).

Mike Jennings scored two and others crossing the line were Max Wilson, Ali Pringle, Dave McComiskey, Will McNully and Gary Butcher.

This week the 2nds entertain Crowbrough.

Meanwhile, life got tougher for Heath after two defeats in London 1 South as they were soundly thrashed at leaders Gravesend.

But they are not the first and will not be the last to suffer a big defeat at the hands of a team geared for promotion.

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With half a dozen regulars missing, Heath creaked in the set-pieces although their ingenuity at the line out ensured a regular supply of ball.

As in the previous performance, however, they spilled the ball far too easily and the hosts prospered from plenty of turnovers.

A Zanarito penalty and Bressons try made it 8-0 at the end of the first quarter but then Gravesend got into their stride and ran in three tries in the next 20 minutes.

Experienced outside half Gray crossed twice and the other came from rangy former Heath and Worthing centre Chris Meddings.

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All were converted by Zanarito to make it 29-0 at the midway point and with injuries to 18-year-old Sam Fieldwork, who had made a promising league debut, and No 8 Nick Main, there was worse to follow for Heath in the second half.

Not that it was one-way traffic, however, and Roscoe Atkins celebrated his birthday with a try in the corner.

But 45 points came at the other end, with two tries apiece from big Nigerian No 8 Osazuwa, second row Brooke-Smith and busy flanker Aigbokhae. The other try scorer was wing Goss.

Zanarito kicked five conversions to take his kicking tally to 19 points.

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The 2nds completed a 29-6 victory over Crowborough in Sussex 1 and club coach Jody Levett was happy to dwell on the positives from the first team game.

“There are always positives and we found them in the performances of debutants Sam Fieldwick and Matt Jackson, as well as Will Hoare again,” he said.

“It was also good to see Nick Main , Darren Brown, Al Harle and Dom Fry returning and making an impression.

“But we were always stretched and will be learning from our experience.

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It is Brighton up next when they visit Whiteman’s Green on Saturday (3) and that means there will be plenty of support for Heath’s U13s who at the lunch beforehand will receive their club ties to mark the passage from minis to juniors.

Team v Gravesend: Turner (capt), M Drage, Pothecary, Brown, Burns, Hoare, S Drage, Main (Harle), Mayle, Fieldwick (Bull), Jackson, Lucas, Fotheringham, Atkins, Fry.