HEATH were unable to produce their best when the chips were down yesterday and lost 27-15 away to Moortown in the clash of Yorkshire One’s leading pair.
It was the Halifax side’s first defeat since late September, at Pontefract, and widened the gap between the pair to nine points.
Heath, who had inflicted the Leeds side’s last defeat when they won 28-26 at North Dean a week before the Pontefract loss, had Fergus Marsden returning alongside Seiffe Boussadda at lock, Jack Crabtree at scrum half, Eddie Cartwright at full back and Si Brown on the wing.
A strong wind favoured the home side in the first half and they took full advantage. Heath had not really switched on when Ged Innes burst through a static defence to score a converted try on four minutes.
Heath responded with Chris Moore, Seiffe Boussadda and Jonny Cole driving forward and when Heath were awarded a penalty Ezra Hinchliffe reduced the arrears after 10 minutes.
Moortown drove into the Heath defence which looked solid enough until Russ Mull evaded a couple of attempted tackles to score Moortown’s second converted try after 14 minutes,
Again Heath responded and Dan Cole put in an astute kick to set up another chance. Callum Harriett-Brown and Isaiah Spooner linked well in attack and it looked as if Heath had weathered the storm.
However, Bernie Mualava Taulealo skipped through some woeful attempts to tackle and scored Moortown’s third converted try to make it 21-3 after 25 minutes.
Moortown continued to find huge holes in a usually solid Heath defence but it Heath scored next with perhaps the try of the game.
Alex McFadden and Marsden went close and the ball came out to the onrushing Olly Cook, whose sublime off-load enabled Ezra Hinchliffe to go over. The centre converted to cut the gap to 11 points after 35 minutes but Moortown kicked a penalty before the break.
The hosts went in search of a bonus point fourth try against their out of sorts visitors, who lost Cook to injury.
The visitors eventually improved. Dan Cole was working hard to get the side moving and his clever cross field kick found touch in the corner.
Heath won line out ball and Richard Brown, Moore and McFadden carried strongly and following another clever kick from Dan Cole, Jason Merrie scooped up the ball and went in for an unconverted try.
Heath continued to press deep into injury time but Moortown stood firm and secured a well deserved win to confirm themselves as strong title favourites.
Heath host third-placed Pontefract at North Dean next weekend.