Heathfield III 19
St Leonards CP 10
After two convincing wins against Heathfield, Ports travelled confidently yesterday with a large squad.
Heathfield were strengthened and showed greater steel, but it was clear from the off that Ports were not reaching the form they reached in their two previous wins.
While Ports were structured and initial exchanges saw Matt Standen and Mickey Scriven giving Ports some go forward Heathfield were strong in defence.
Heathfield were also strong at the set piece and Nick Giles needed to do some tidying up at the line outs. Ports kept possession well, and Heathfield gave away a number of penalties.
Ports hammered at the line Joe Whitehill-James coming close before eventually pressure told and Scriven burst over for the score. Ports kept hold of the ball, and Heathfield’s poor discipline gave Ports opportunities.
Tom Ingram carried well, and Luke Barningham and Whitehill-James were counter-attacking threats but hurried passes or risky off-loads meant Ports were denied a second try.
In defence Greg Montier, Colin Whyte and Chris Perry all put in a big effort. Perry halting Heathfield’s progress in the maul.
Heathfield showed good composure though and brought themselves back into the game with a good try. Murray Warman and Whitehill-James combined well but the winger was stopped on the line.
The game became increasingly frenetic which did not suit the Ports style of play, Whyte was a calming presence carrying well and when Montier made a strong burst Ports looked more organised, Mike Hutchins made good yards before his pass put George Upton over in the corner.
Heathfield came back at Ports but Ingram ended the last attack of the half. Ports had made enforced changes, and some tactical but the performance continued to be disjointed. Whyte, Upton and Standen all made important tackles but Heathfield took the lead through a well worked try.
Ports scrum was under pressure and this prevented any real go forward and a desperate tackle in the corner by Warman resulted in a penalty try and a yellow card for the skipper.
Heathfield quickly received a yellow card of their own and as the game wore on Ports found some structure. Upton made some strong yards, Montier and Whyte also made the gain line but Heathfield were well organised at the breakdown. Paul Smart tried unlocking the defence but Ports seemed to be missing the final pass.
The final moments stretched on, but Ports could not string together the phases and the game ground to an unsatisfying end.
Smart captured the mood post game saying: “We were well below par today, not taking our first half chances cost us dear.”
Despite the poor result there were still some strong performances, Montier came back well from injury and Whitehill-James was a livewire but the E-Heat man of the match was Colin Whyte. The prop was efficient in the tackle and carrying and scrummaged well throughout.
15 Barningham 14 Warman 13 Hutchins 12 Standen 11 Whitehill-James 10 Hill (Steele) 9 Hall (Smart) 1 Whyte 2 Scriven (Wright) 3 Giles (Freeman) 4 Storey (Wan/Scriven) 5 Perry 6 Montier (Barrowclough)7 Upton 8 Ingram Sub Not Used Thomas