St Leonards CP 34
Heathfield & Waldron 5
Ports recent run of poor form began with a disappointing defeat against Heathfield, and despite the visitors only having 14 players the early exchanges of this game suggested that result was likely to be repeated.
Ports lost the ball in contact, and Heathfield dominated territory. Luke Loving-Price and Kim Wan made decisive tackles and when the ball was at the ruck George Upton and Andy Sanders were limpets.
Despite these efforts Heathfield ran a good line through a static defence and took the lead. Ports did carry the ball, Tom Ingram and Upton both carried aggressively but Heathfield were winning the collisions. Ports could not unleash their backs, Will Steele and Joe Whitehill-James were swallowed up.
Upton and Ingram combined well but were denied in the corner, Heathfield could not clear though and a loose pass was hacked on by Upton who dived over. Henry Hill converted well.
Heathfield still looked the more likely to score, Chopper Gooders and Upton made key tackles. Heathfield lost the ball with the line beckoning. Ports broke away and Ingram’s booming clearance was chased down brilliantly by replacement Max Olujobi but Ports missed the opportunity to score from this territory.
The half came to an end with Ports leading but only just. Ports soaked up the early pressure as the second half began; Mickey Scriven tackled everything with real ferocity, after Murray Warman had come close Scriven chased down the Heathfield stand-off and his tackle gave Ports a five metre scrum.
Ingram broke and Luke Barningham dived over in the corner. Ports found themselves on the front foot, Scriven and Upton got them on the front foot and from another scrum the elastic Olujobi slalomed his way over the line.
The extra man and new legs were beginning to tell. Scriven again made the penetrative run, Hill now relishing the open space put Upton in for his second. A barrelling Tom Monks run was unlucky not to put Sanders over in the corner but Upton this time fed Warman and the centre dotted down. Barningham converted.
Heathfield again applied pressure, but work by Sanders, Loving-Price and Wan held them at bay. Ports again worked through the phases and Warman ran home his second to bring an end to the game.
Coach Paul Smart identified where the game shifted: “A dreadful first half saw us 7-5 up, when Heathfield’s playmaker left the field injured this changed the game and there was a 100 per cent improvement by us in the second half that produced the correct result”.
A number of players shone, Loving-Price was a disruptive presence and tackled well, Sanders worked well at the set piece and was a nuisance at the breakdown but E-Heat Man of the match was Mickey Scriven who changed the game with his aggressive defence and confident ball carrying.
15 Gooders (Olujobi) 14 Steele (L Barningham) 13 Warman 12 Loving-Price 11 Whitehill-James 10 Hill 9 Hall (Smart) 1 Wan 2 Wright 3 Monks 4 Storey (Sanders) 5 Perry (C Barningham) 6 Sanders (Scriven) 7 Upton 8 Ingram