Heathens hang on for first league win!
Heathens prevail despite spirited comeback by Farnborough
After losing our first two league games, the match against Farnborough was a must win game. Unusually it was a bright start for Heathens with Dom taking the ball up-field from the kick off and then Lloyd gaining some good yards. Despite losing the ball, Heathens counter rucked well and Dom was over for our first try. Conversion missed so the score was 5-0.
Heathens were dominating possession now, winning scrums against the head at will and putting Farnborough under pressure with good defence and fast line speed. This led to a penalty just outside the 22 and right in front of the posts. The decision was made to kick for goal and with James successful the score was 8-0. Little did we know how crucial this kick would end up but Simon’s advice to take the points before the match was well heeded.
From the kick off Heathens made lots of territory but a knock on gave Farnborough a scrum on their 10m line. The ball was passed to their backs but a superb tackle from Jayden dislodged the ball and we had a scrum in a fantastic position. Josh picked and went from the base and ran down the left wing evading several defenders. He was able to run under the posts and make the conversion easy for James. Score 15-0.
Our discipline then gave Farnborough some easy territory after the restart, first a penalty for going into the side of a ruck and then hands in the ruck. Despite this we turned over possession and had a line out between our 22 and 10m line. Despite the throw starting straight the wind blew the ball wildly off course and into the hands of Farnborough. Our attacking line did not react quickly enough and it was a simple run in for Farnborough under the posts. Score now 15-7.
Heathens bounced back quickly with tackles coming in from James and Zack then Jayden with a great effort to force Farnborough into touch. From the lineout there was a pre-planned short ball to Dom who ran up the 5m channel making about 30 metres, Jayden then received the ball from Jake and ran across the 22 before offloading to Connor who touched down on the left. No TMO required for the grounding, honest, and yes who is Barbara? James kicked the conversion and the score was 22-7.
Connor was then like a man possessed he took the ball from the kick off and ran a wonderful line and offloaded to Jake who almost scored but was brought down just before the line. Luckily Dom was at hand and picked up and went over for the score out wide on the left. Missed conversion, score 27-7.
It was another good restart and we soon found ourselves with an attacking scrum on Farnborough’s 10m line. A trademark run from the base of the scrum from Josh saw him hand off a defender and score wide on the right. Missed conversion so the score was now a healthy 32-7. Surely the game was in the bag and only 10 more points needed to end the contest. Unfortunately Heathens conceded a soft try and the score at the end of the first half was 32-12. Still a strong position though.
With the wind now in our faces the second half was a very different story. Farnborough came out a different team and we started to miss tackles, allowing them to make a good 50m. A good track back and try saving tackle from Jayden gave us a scrum in our 22. The ball was cleared and despite a good chase from Lloyd, Farnborough retained possession and passed the ball quickly for a try, missed conversion so score 32-17.
Heathens were next on the scoreboard. Josh gathered a lovely kick off from Jake and ran at their defence, a maul was set up and the ball was passed out to James who ran under the posts and then converted his try. Score now an unassailable 39-17. Well that’s what I thought but Farnborough had different ideas!
To be honest, we were now a very tired looking team. There were some desperate tackles being put in from the likes of Zack, Josh, Fin and Jayden but we were giving away too many penalties. Farnborough were finding it much easier to break our defence and three converted tries in quick succession made the score a very worrying 39-38.
Farnborough’s tails were up and the last five minutes caused my hair to go grey and bite my fingernails off. With Farnborough now in our 22 it looked like we could actually lose but a mistake gave us a scrum. All we had to do was win it, hadn’t lost one all day, no problem. Amazingly we did lose the scrum and Farnborough moved the ball to the right. Were we going to lose whilst the clock was in the red? No, James made a great tackle and the Farnborough player knocked on. The relief on the player’s faces as the whistle blew was clear to see. We knew we could have thrown that away!
A win is a win though and the first in the league. Well done to them all for sticking at it to the end. Everyone contributed with some great tackling from Josh, Dom, Jayden, James, Zack and Lloyd. Lewis made lots of yards, Xander was stuck into the rucks, Brian put his body on the line near the end and Tristan and Daniel made lots of yards on the wing. Despite his dodgy knee Connor played the first half and contributed well in attack. Jake was a threat will ball in hand and Fin was solid at scrum half.
James made the difference today and deserved the Man of the Match award. Romsey will be a tougher opponent next week so we need to make sure we put in a 60 minute not 40 minute performance. Well done lads!