Hove vs. Heathfield & Waldron (A)
Hove continue their momentum with narrow win over Heathfield
A damp day greeted Hove in their penultimate game before the Xmas as they traveled to fellow Sussex outfit Heathfield. Heathfield have a good record at home boasting three wins, so Hove knew that this as going to be a tough afternoon.
An early Carles Galindo penalty got Hove on the board before poor communication at the restart coupled with silly penalties at the breakdown gave the home side good field position. A strong shove at the first scrum from the home side gave them the penalty advantage in which the home sides 12 sat back in the pocket to knock over 3 points to square things up at 3-3.
Continued penalties for silly offences at the breakdowns as well as an eagerness to meet the home sides attack led to another home penalty for offside in which their goal kicker gratefully struck; 6-3. Soon after Hove’s backs made their first inroads into the Heathfield territory as Ryan Morlen made good ground and found Sam Whiting on his shoulder. His attempted offload however was intercepted and a try was only prevented by a superb covering tap tackle from Guy ‘The Killer’ Patton.
Hove again looked threatening in the wider channels with ball in hand and the first try of the afternoon nearly came after Phil Dugard made a neat break and dropped a grubber behind the onrushing covering defence. All 6ft 7 of Ian Saunders however was unable to collect the bouncing ball in time and was bundled into touch. Hove did level the scores soon after with another Galindo penalty which also resulted in the home sides prop spending ten minutes in the bin after persistent penalties at the breakdown.
Hove soon put their man advantage to good use, as good hands from Morgan Griffin put Martin Macdonald away in space and he had enough toe to go in at the corner with Galindo again on target with the shot at goal; 13-6.
Much of the rest of the first half was played inside the two ten metre lines with both teams committing unforced errors. Hove did however score again with the final play in the first half. A solid tackle from Kip Wallace forced the ball carrier to loose position and after a stray pass found the grass, Guy Patton was able to toe the ball on and after some neat football skills from Ryan Morlen, he was able to touch down to the right of the uprights. Galindo again continued his 100% record as Hove went into the break at 20-6.
It was the home side that came out firing after the break as another penalty at the breakdown allowed them to kick to the corner. A strong lineout drive got the designated momentum to rubble over the Hove line for their first fiver pointer of the afternoon. The extras were added; 20-13.
This brought the home side’s crowd to life as minutes later from a similar position; they went over again from a rolling maul as they took the game to Hove in the tight. The kickers continued their fine afternoons as the extras were added to draw the sides level; 20-20.
Hove seeking to up the tempo of the game were tapping penalties from all areas of the pitch and this caught the home sides lumpier forwards off guard leading to a penalty for offside in which Galindo struck true for Hove to retake the lead; 23-20.
Bryn Garrish soon found himself in the bin for ten minutes after leading with his elbow into contact, something referees are hot on since World Rugby’s renewed focus on concussion. With Heathfield enjoying dominance at the scrum, they soon got their reward as they pushed the Hove eight back and neat control from their number 8 led to their third try of the afternoon, again the extras were added; 23-27.
Hove have this new found resilience and with the quality in their backline can score from anywhere. A good break from Will Walker down the wing gave them the needed field position and after the ball was moved to the other side of the pitch and back again, Walker was on hand to provide the finishing touch to go in at the corner. Galindo with the only blemish to his kicking record pushed his conversion; 28-27.
With time running out, Hove had the chance to get the all-important bonus point fourth try, however a lack of communication between Rob Biggs and Ian Saunders down the short side allowed the home side one last attack. Hove defended the final minutes to close out the game and will be very happy to come away with four points.
Hove: Wallace, Andrews, Shergold , Saunders, Knott, Ward, Macdonald, Griffin, Biggs, Dugard, Patton, Galindo, Morlen, Garrish, Whiting © Subs: Van Gelderen, Mohan and Walker.