Kicking accuracy proved key as Northampton BBOB beat Heathens 24-20 at St Andrews Mill.
Heathens’ unusual lack of discipline and cohesion as a team at times lead to some poor decision making, which did not help their cause.
It led to them not getting on the right side of the referee in this hard-fought friendly fixture between two well-matched teams.
Craig Johnson was making his Heathens debut in the second row, having returned to rugby following a 13-year absence.
BBOB opened the scoring after 16 minutes when they won the ball at a scrum on their own 22-metre line and exploited a two-on-one overlap.
The Romany-based Heathens were quick to respond and a series of carries, with flanker Mark Evans and hooker Viorel Marin to the fore, led to Andy Ingate scoring in the corner.
But the conversion was missed and BBOB soon used their superior pace to earn a turnover and run the ball back 70 metres to score their second try.
Heathens responded on 28 minutes when No.8 Dan Stonehouse picked up off the base of a strong scrum and score.
This was followed by Heathens exerting pressure that led to a penalty, and from the ensuing lineout, flanker John Marlow was on the end of a drive to claim the score.
That put Heathens into the lead by a single point at 15-14 as the teams headed in for half-time.
BBOB regained the lead 20 minutes into the second half following some good running, only for Heathens to respond in the 75th minute when Stonehouse scored his second try.
Despite their efforts, Heathens were unable to maintain the lead and BBOB responded with an unconverted try in the corner with the last move of the game to run out 24-20 winners.
It was a competitive local derby game that could have gone either way and ultimately hinged on Heathens’ missed conversions.
This Saturday, Heathens remain in friendly action as they entertain Mens Own IIs at The Racecourse in what is always a close-run, competitive fixture. Kick-off is 2:15pm.
Sleaford 7 Casuals 26
CASUALS travelled to Sleaford and came away with a strong win in heavy conditions against a big team playing in the northern side of the midlands pyramid.
Casuals now progress to the fourth round of the Senior Vase.
Meanwhile, the Lewis Shield side beat Long Buckby to progress to round two, with Daventry lying in wait.
There were notable debuts from Colts Ashley Pearson and Matt Wainwright.
Elsewhere, Casuals IIs hosted an unknown Bletchley outfit, earning an impressive 27-0 win.
Big scrummaging and a pushover score by Mark Allwork laid the foundations inside the opening 10 minutes.
And an immense defensive effort was led by the young and the old of Tom Knight and Phillip Dent respectively.
The Colts rounded off a good week for the club by beating Stockwood Park 32-0.
TOWCESTRIANS IIs moved into the next round of the cup after cruising to a 26-0 victory at Old Halesonians.
Tows made nine changes, but still had some very good players on board.
Sam Aitchison scored Tows’ first try on 30 minutes.
They then stepped it up in the second period, with man of the match Ali Haynes leading the charge.
Kris Ancil scored Tows’ second try, with James Falvey converting, and the kicker then added the extras to Charlie Smith’s score.
Ben Roe finished things off, with Pepe Nanci converting.