Heathfield & Waldron 5
St Leonards CP 43
Ports travelled to Heathfield having beaten them 73-14 earlier in the season, but aware of the fact that a larger and better equipped Heathfield team would face them.
Ports, like the hosts, had a sizeable team and both teams knew a win was important to keep them away from the relegation positions and to potentially push them in to the top half of the league.
Ports started confidentally, George Upton caught the kick-off and drove back at Heathfield, trailing defenders. His strong running would be a feature throughout the game.
The early exchanges were a little frenetic, Upton, Morgan Pearce and Murray Warman all ran at Heathfield but opportunities were missed.
Little was required in defence but Nick Giles disrupted Heathfield well at the set-piece. Heathfield came back at Ports but calm defence held them back.
Upton broke again and Matt Standen was unlucky not to score after crashing over the line. From the resulting scrum Ports got a strong drive on Giles, Jody Freeman and Mark Wright dominating their opposite number. Tom Ingram showed good control and Neil Davie picked up to tap down. Luke Barningham converted.
Heathfield kicked a lot of ball away, Ash Mountain and Pearce drove it back at them, in limited space Barningham jabbed a kick through. He couldn’t score, but from the ruck the sniping Davie added a second of the game.
Ports applied the pressure, Standen won the ball back and Davie took a meandering run. Barningham probed at the defence too but Heathfield won possession back. Josh Storey won a penalty at the ruck.
The mercurial Davie tapped quickly and couldn’t be denied his hat-trick. The half came to an end with Mike Hutchins and Warman combining well but denied by a forward pass. Excellent work between Upton and Chopper Gooders saw Upton over the line but that was disallowed.
Ports won the scrum against the head, Ingram throwing a clever offload to Davie who scampered over for his fourth. Barningham slotted the conversion.
Heathfield fought back, almost scoring in the corner but a clever steal by Freeman gave Ports an unlikely attacking opportunity. Henry Hill fed Pearce who broke upfield. He combined well with Upton and Joe Whitehill-James but the final pass was called forward.
Ports couldn’t be denied though. Mountain made huge yards, the big forward bumping off would-be tacklers. He fed Warman who showed fantastic pace to outrun the defence. Barningham again converted.
The Ports forwards drove onwards, Ingram crashing through tackles. Upton inched towards the line before the enthusiastic Gooders danced through some tackles and evaded a final tackler with a roll and dive over the line. His athletic try was converted by Barningham.
Gaps were opening and Warman took advantage, he couldn’t break through but another scrum gave Ingram space and his clever offload to Davie saw the scrum-half over for his fifth try.
Ports made a raft of changes, but still came close Whitehill-James making a jinking run upfield but Heathfield applied pressure and scored the final try of the game.
This did not take the shine off a dominant performance, Ports coach Paul Smart identifying the basis for Ports success as: “A really well-structured, well executed performance. We were fitter and hungrier than a strong Heathfield team,” He said after the match.
A number of performances shone. Davie put in a five star effort with his tries but also with his constant sniping runs. He worked well in tandem with Ingram who was back to his barnstorming best, as was the powerful Mountain but the E-Heat man of the match was George Upton. His attacking play continually put Ports on the front foot, and he led a defensive line that constantly pressured the Heathfield backs.
15 Hutchins (Whitehill-James) 14 Warman 13 Pearce 12 Standen (Steele) 11 L Barningham 10 Hill (Smart) 9 Davie 1 Freeman 2 Wright (Whyte) 3 Giles 4 Storey (Wan) 5 Mountain (Thomas) 6 Gooders (Barrowclough) 7 Upton 8 Ingram (C Barningham)