Following the three week break over Christmas and New Year, Anchs made the journey to Heathfield & Waldron (“H & W”) for their first game of the new decade, against the only side to have beaten league leaders Ashford, despite their position towards the bottom of the league.
Playing on a boggy Sussex clay pitch, with a strong wind behind them in the first half, Anchs started slowly and conceded a number of penalties. After being awarded a penalty for offside inside the Anchs 22, the home side opened the scoring with an easy penalty. Much of the first half became a scrappy affair with a high penalty count not allowing the game to flow. In fact, the game was being played mainly between the two 22s with very few scoring opportunities being created by either side.
Eventually, Anchs managed to put a number of phases together which culminated in them being awarded a penalty which Ollie Woodward duly converted to bring the scores level. However, they soon found themselves behind again, when H & W finished off a break with a try out wide, which went unconverted. They then extended their lead following a period on attack when their scrum half crossed the line with a break from close range. Although the conversion was missed, the home side held a 13 – 3 lead, which Anchs failed to reduce before half time.
H & W were reduced to 14 men following a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on and Anchs certainly had their chances before the break. On two occasions they kicked a penalty to the corner but were thwarted by a well organized H & W defence.
Anchs turned to play into the wind in the second half and soon found themselves further behind when H & W converted another penalty. Anchs managed to retain possession for periods of play but were unable to create any scoring opportunities, hampered by both the heavy underfoot conditions and a good defensive effort by the home side.
H & W were unlucky not to go further ahead when another penalty bounced back off the post and Anchs managed to clear their line. Anchs started to make some inroads using their strong running forwards but were unable to capitalize when the ball was spread wide. With time running out Anchs were really just looking to gain a bonus point rather than win the game, but a mistake in the backs was picked up by the H & W backs and they moved the ball wide for a third try which again went unconverted but secured the victory with a 21 – 3 scoreline.
It was a disappointing performance for Anchs who never managed to impose themselves on the home side. They now return to Darland Avenue next week needing to avenge their heaviest defeat of the season against high flying Folkestone in order to get their Season back on track.
By Ian Brenton