A damp murky West Yorkshire afternoon and not one that Beverley will particularly want to remember.
In the heavy underfoot conditions they could never quite come to terms with the big Heath pack and in the end could have no complaint at the final outcome. They did have their moments particularly in the first half and on a firmer surface it could all have been very different.
Beverley RUFC clearly had the slicker backline which might well have caused havoc but this was not a day for fast running rugby. Beverley’s best moments nonetheless were a couple of superb individual tries by Rob Smith one at the start of each half.
Within two minutes of the kick-off Beverley won a lineout on halfway and moved the ball to Smith who scythed through the home defence from inside his own half for a wonderful try. Beverley looked likely to quickly add to it with some sustained pressure on the Heath line but they could find no way through. Will Harrison, Isaac Keighley and Dale Hodgson all went close and Jack Garvin would have scored had he not been balked as he went for the touchdown after a clever chip over the top.
Smith added a penalty after eighteen minutes to increase the Beverley lead but two minutes later Heath were back in it. With almost their first foray into Beverley territory they won a lineout and their pack with little resistance drove up to and over the line from twenty metres out. Hooker Tom Baxter got the touchdown and centre Ezra Hinchliffe added the conversion.
Ten minutes later Heath went into the lead with a second converted try. Another drive by their forwards to the line was thwarted but when the ball was moved wide winger Luke Saltstall was left with an easy run-in. The lead was hardly deserved in view of the earlier play having been spent almost entirely in the home half. And at this stage Beverley still looked the more likely winners.
They continued to have the better of the play without being able to capitalise on some good attacking situations. Although the forwards were struggling in the set pieces they competed well in the loose and at the breakdowns. Will Webster and Jacob Holmes combined well to set up one promising attack but nothing came of it and halftime arrived with Beverley still trailing 14-8.
The second half started as the first with a lovely Smith try. He somehow dislodged the ball from Heath hands, kicked upfield, outpaced the covering defence from inside his own half, and dribbled over for a try in the corner. It was a wonderful start to the half and it got them back to 14-13 but thereafter the game gradually started to slip away for Beverley.
As the half progressed the penalty count against Beverley rose at an ever-increasing rate and the last half hour seemed to be played out almost entirely with Beverley defending penalty lineouts in their own 22. Heath repeatedly went for the corner with their kicks but their big forwards were somehow kept at bay although Beverley remained frustratingly unable to clear their lines.
As the game wore on Beverley looked increasingly less likely to get back into it. The nearest they came to scoring was from a thirty metre break out of defence by Luke Hazell who was denied a clear run to the line only by a last ditch ankle tackle on halfway. A long raking kick by Junior Tupai did win them a lineout in a good attacking position but a poor throw-in lost them the ball and they were almost immediately back defending their own line.
Two penalties by Hinchliffe took Heath to 20-13 before late on in the increasing gloom Beverley were at last awarded a rare penalty. The decision was immediately reversed through ill discipline by one of their forwards which just about summed up Beverley’s afternoon. In the last minute Hinchliffe slotted a third penalty to deny Beverley a losing bonus point. It was just not their day.