St Leonards CP – 22
Heathfield & Waldron II – 10
Ports hosted a Heathfield team sitting at the top of the league, having already lost the first fixture earlier in the season.
Heathfield were slightly short-handed and Ports loaned them veteran Craig Barningham to begin the game in parity.
Ports continued to loan players throughout the game to ensure it remained competitive.
The match started with Ports making some early running. Matt Standen, Ash Mountain and Greg Montier all made big carries. Heathfield showed why they led the table though, working well through the phases and then dominating the Ports scrum to dive over.
Heathfield was in a dominant position at this point, Tom Ingram, Josh Storey and Montier all making key tackles. Standen made a vital steal when a second try seemed most likely.
Ports tried breaking back, Steve Hall combined well with Murray Warman and Montier again broke the defence.
Ports came close but Ill-discipline saw them marched down the field and a well struck penalty gave Heathfield a ten point lead. Ports needed to strike back, and they did – demonstrating the doggedness that has characterised the season.
Colin Whyte and Rob Tritton both crashed forward, and the irrepressible Montier hammered at the line. Heathfield repelled but their clearing kick was charged down and Storey leapt on the loose ball to score.
Ports still had some defending to do, Heathfield again gained territory and their powerful scrum looked likely to add another score before a smart intervention by Hall cleared the ball and ended the half.
Ports took advantage of their larger squad, bringing fresh legs on and moving the ball around more. Max Olujobi found more space and Chris Perry made a huge barrelling run before leaving the field injured.
Mike Hutchins used his kicking game to turn the defence. From a defensive Heathfield line-out Montier caught the overthrow and couldn’t be stopped from five metres out.
Heathfield were being starved of the ball, Montier was an outlet again and again. From a Ports line-out this time he made a thundering run and crashed over to give Ports the lead for the first time. Ashley Diedericks slotted the conversion.
Ports were now shifting the ball from side to side, pulling the Heathfield defence apart and Ross Kearney found a gap tearing through three defenders before going over in the corner.
With the tides clearly turned Heathfield still showed real grit to again hammer at Ports’ door but the defence held solid again as the game came to an end.
Coach Paul Smart captured the roots of Ports success saying: “Today was a real squad effort, everybody who came on the field made a contribution and the changes we made turned the game around”.
There were a number of good performances. Second rowers Mountain and Storey were key runners, and acted as defensive enforcers but the E-Heat Man of the Match was Greg Montier. The back-rower ran rampant with the ball and was destructive in defence.
The team was made up of…
15 L Barningham 14 Olujobi 13 Hutchins 12 Standen (Kearney) 11 Steele 10 Hill (Diedericks) 9 Hall (Smart) 1 Tritton 2 Wright (Behan) 3 Whyte 4 Storey (Wan) 5 Mountain (Perry) 6 Montier 7 Warman 8 Ingram
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