Heath consolidated their position as Yorkshire One promotion contenders by beating neighbours Rishworthians 20-5 at Copley – but they did not have it all their own way.
Two tries by speedster Callum Harriett-Brown proved the difference between the sides, although dogged home defence kept the visitors at bay near the end as they pounded the line trying to get a bonus-point try.
Before the game Heath coach Dave Harrison had warned it would not be an easy ride against opponents who are languishing near the foot of the table and he was right.
Rishworthians assistant coach Tom Andrews praised an “outstanding display” by his men. “We need to produce this kind of performance against the teams around us instead of against the best teams,” he said.
At times Heath pushed the Copley men back in the scrums, but at other times the home pack held firm and even took two against the head, although the second time drew a penalty.
It took 33 minutes for any points to be registered, but a dazzling run by left wing Harriett-Brown, after the ball came out from a scrum, saw him dash 60 metres, leaving home defenders flailing, to bring the first score.
Before that both sides had created chances without ever really looking likely to turn them into points.
Defences were resolute and both fly-halves, Dan Cole for Heath and Rishworthians Ed Cockroft, relieved pressure with long kicks.
The home side probably had the best chance to score first. Fraser Swarbrooke won the ball at a lineout but Heath stopped the attempted catch and drive.
After the Heath try Ethan Pollard recovered the ball well from the restart and won his side a penalty, but Cockroft’s kick drifted wide.
Home flanker Harvey Keighley-Payne, who had another fine game, charged the ball down on the Heath line, but play was brought back for an earlier infringement.
Rishworthians lost player-coach Chris Stone to a yellow card just before the break and his side had to defend well to go into half-time trailing 5–0.
No 8 Gez Rollings, who had a strong game, had to go off when a scrum was needed as Jack Smart came into the front row.
Heath could not make the extra man advantage count and, even with the home scrum going back, Keighley-Payne was able to get the ball out quickly.
He set up a good chance, fullback Luke Sutcliffe bursting through to put wing Sam Bake clear, but he was finally forced into touch.
Heath came back and were rewarded with a penalty. Ezra Hinchliffe added three points.
Cole then burst through to take play close to the home line. Heath kept up the pressure and the ball went out for centre Isaiah Spooner to power over wide out.
As Rishworthians fought back a strong kick out of defence from Cole bounced perfectly for Harriett-Brown and there was no stopping the flying winger in a race to the line. Hinchliffe added the conversion.
The home side fought back and fullback Sutcliffe gathered a loose ball and raced through to put supporting scrum half George Wright in for a consolation try.
In the final minutes Heath threw everything at Rishworthians, but the defence was rock solid.