Heath 26 – 14 Lymm

1st Team Match Report | Saturday April 15 2023

Young Lymm side bow out in style

On a sunny day, with a slight breeze, Lymm ran out onto a damp, heavy pitch after several days of rain at The Heath Rugby Union Club, just south of Halifax, in the final qualifier for the Papa Johns Community Cup Competition, organised by the RFU.

The winner of this encounter would go on to play Havant on the south coast in the semi-final of the competition, despite Heath having only played this one fixture against Lymm in the competition.

Heath, who had not played for four weeks after their league season had finished, fielded a full-strength squad whereas Lymm had nine regular first team players absent.

These two clubs have not played each other since the early 1970’s and it promised to be a clash of styles as a typically large, robust Yorkshire team took the field against a young, but extremely fit young side from Cheshire. Thirteen members of the squad of eighteen were graduates of the Lymm Colts Academy.

Taking the initiative, Heath started spritely as Lymm absorbed the early exchanges. The hosts’ kicking game pinned Lymm back and territorially the first half was mostly played in Lymm’s half. Tough tackling from both sides was a feature throughout the afternoon with Ed Morris, Lymm’s No 8, a notable dynamo throughout, and full back Sam Wadsworth looking dangerous with a 60m break.

At scrum time there was parity with only one technical free kick awarded to each side all game. However, on 15 mins, a poor grubber from the full back was intercepted and Heath’s centre kicked through, picked up and ran to the line to score, 7 – 0 with the easy conversion.

A period of ascendency followed by the hosts who were beginning to grow in confidence. A penalty after 20 mins kept the scoreboard ticking over as former Sale FC veteran centre Chris Johnson kicked the three points making it 10 – 0.

Heath nearly scored again with good handling down the right but the last pass went to ground. However, dropped balls by the visitors also kept them under pressure and Lymm failed to get a foothold in the match. Good hands released Heath’s speedy left winger who scored another try wide out, ably converted, 17 – 0 after 31 mins.

Another penalty just before half time, from 40m out, extended Heath’s lead to 20 – 0 as the whistle went for half time, leaving Lymm with a hill to climb.

Half Time: Heath 20 – 0 Lymm

Heath continued to apply the pressure early in the second half as Lymm continued on the back foot. As Lymm halted what looked like an ominous rolling maul, the resultant penalty in front of the posts extended the hosts’ lead to 23 – 0 after 55 mins.

Lymm were beginning to go for broke and young centre George ‘Stormin’ Norman lived up to his sobriquet and made a 60m break up the middle of the pitch. Looking right instead of left meant he missed his support but Lymm maintained the attack, with flanker James Pitcher prominent. A few more forward surges near the line followed until scrum half Gregor Watson, nipped over near the posts, 23 – 7 with fly half Tom Shard’s conversion.

Leading league try scorer Nathan Beesley replaced Andy Rowley on the right wing and had an immediate impact. The ball was moved swiftly through the hands and Beesley skinned his opposite number on the outside.

After running 50m he passed inside to Watson who was hauled down 5m short. Despite limited possession Lymm were making the most of it and their tails were now well and truly up as Sam Wadsworth once again made a surging run through the Yorkshire defences. But this sustained pressure was not delivering points and Heath’s obstinate defence was holding out.

However, fast hands fed Beesley who had moved to full back and Rowley had returned to the right wing. Beesley, as so often this season, rounded the defender with pure speed, drew his man and fed Rowley who went in under the posts – 23 – 14 with Shard’s conversion on 74 mins.

Another penalty to an increasingly nervous and tiring Heath extended their lead to 26 – 14 with 3 mins remaining. Rowley was yellow carded for a high tackle late on, which appeared harsh as the opposite winger had slipped into the tackle.

The visitors continued to look dangerous but it was all too little too late as the full time whistle went, with Heath worthy winners.

Full Time: Heath 26 – 14 Lymm

It is a well-known fact that they ‘give you nowt’ in Yorkshire and so it transpired, but this young Lymm team were a credit to themselves and the club.

Unlike many clubs, who pulled out during the pool stages, the coaching team saw it as an opportunity to blood younger players and gain experience in a very competitive national cup, in preparation from the 23/24 campaign at Level 4.

The players and coaching staff should be proud of what they have achieved this season, and it has been truly a pleasure, for all the ground staff, supporters and officials, to watch such outstanding performances each week.

Director of Rugby Adam Fletcher commented: ‘It wasn’t the first half we wanted and Heath played the heavy conditions well. We initially struggled to find our shape and there were a few new combinations who hadn’t played together.

‘But the lads stuck at it and the second half was a different story. We started to play to our strengths and put them under serious pressure. Our tries were both crackers and I was delighted with how the lads responded in the face of adversity. It bodes well for next season.

‘Heath deserved the win and we wish them good luck at Havant next week, in the semi-final, and in their attempt to get to Twickenham.’

Team squad: 1.Gav Woods (107) 2. Rob Makin* (49) 3. James Sherlock* (11) 4. James Yates* (99) Ben Thompson (10) 6. Fin Williams* (3) 7. James Pitcher* (42) 8. Ed Morris (31) 9. Gregor Watson (27) 10. Tom Shard* (110) 11. Paddy Jennings* (26) 12. James Rooney* (10)  13. George Norman* (14) 14. Andy Rowley* (65) 15. Sam Wadsworth* (15) 16. Rhys Lilly* (31) 17. Ali Sutherland (78) 18. Nathan Beesley* (52)

*Former Lymm Colt.


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