YORK RUFC's Papa John's Cup journey came to an end as Heath secured their place at Twickenheam with a 36-13 triumph.

Heath’s power and game management proved too much for York as they bowed out of the Papa John Cup just one step away from Twickenham.

Heath started the game briskly and quickly settled into what would become the pattern of the game for them.

From the outset, Heath’s set piece in both scrum and lineout provided a solid platform and lots of time for Johnson to orchestrate the game and choose his options to keep York pinned in their own half.

Once established in the York half with some good kicking out of hand by Johnson, strong carrying by the Heath forwards, particularly the dynamic Rowntree off the back of the scrum, battered the York defence.

In response, York who had recognised the size advantage Heath had up front, chose to try and move their big pack around going through the phases smoothly trying to find the edge of the Heath defence or create good ball for Shackleton to clear.

York forced Heath into handling errors, making tackles above their weight and swarming like a nest of hornets around the loose ball, moving the ball in attack at every option. Heath in return kicked to gain territory and battered the York line with powerful running.


The early pressure looked ominous for York and when Johnson stepped up to take a shot at goal after York were penalised 35m out, the opening score looked inevitable until it hit the post and York were able to clear.

Minutes later, Heath opened the scoring. An accurate throw hitting Stringer at the height of his lift in the middle of the line was unopposable.

Heath formed the maul, slipped the ball to their right in the maul and rolled around the edge to crash over the line with the brave attempt to stop them by Burlingtham ineffective.

A text book move from the training field well executed on the day. Johnson converted to make the score 7-0 to Heath.

York responded quickly. A charge down by Mills created loose play in which Heath were penalised.

At 30m this was well within Shackleton’s range, and he made no mistake to bring the game back to 7-3.

The game ebbed and flowed with some good phases from York, Atkin fizzing at scrum half urging the pack on to give quicker cleaner ball.

After 28 minutes the Heath pressure secured them into another penalty which Johnson converted to increase their lead to 10-3.

York responded with a penalty of their own ten minutes later to pull the score back to 10-6.

With half-time approaching, Heath swung the momentum of the game. Courageous defending about ten metres out on the York right saw the touch judge intervene and point out what must have been deemed a professional foul by Maud, with the referee awarding a yellow card and reducing York to 14 men.

Heath executed another text book rolling maul off the line out to take the game to 17-6 just before the half time whistle.

It was York that got the second half off to a lively start with a man down. After creating good field position, York recycled, pulling the Heath defence out of shape enough for Shackelton to dance his way through the gap and over the line to score a try which he converted. Heath 17, York 13, the contest still very much on.

With Maud’s return from the bench and York back to full strength, the full blooded and uncompromising battle resumed.

Heath piled on the pressure but inaccuracy in their passing lost them at least two chances of scoring.

York defended the breakdown in their right-hand corner and had managed to slow down the Heath ball.

Heath, desperate to score, fumbled the ball in midfield and the referee stopped play. Enter stage right the touch judge who advised the referee that a York player had infringed at the breakdown, not coming in from behind the back foot.

After some discussion about who the offender was, the referee called the York captain over along with Maud who received his second yellow card of the game which was duly upgraded to a red. Heath 17, York 13, York down to 14 men and 25 minutes to play at least.

This impacted the game tremendously, and there were many York supporters who felt Maud was hard done by. His strength and ability to interject himself into Heath’s play was certainly a loss to York.

Forward power and an organised defence that York struggled to break took its toll with Heath running in three more tries to close the game at 36-13.

One of these a cruel and undeserved interception by Heath just before the final whistle as York battled to the very end to get back on terms.