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Heeley's sin-binning crucial as Upton bogged down at Pinley
5:40pm Tuesday 11th February 2014 in Sport
UPTON Rugby Club were beaten 23-6 in Midlands Three West (South) by Pinley on a boggy pitch in Coventry.
The match was one of the few games of the weekend to survive the weather, but the strong winds and muddy playing surface meant both sides took most of the game to find any rhythm.
Stand-in Upton skipper Max Macfarlane won the toss and, with coach Stu Brooks, decided to play into the wind.
This required a real defensive effort from the visitors as kicking for territory was almost impossible.
Upton played with real guts in the first-half with veteran Oli Jones impressing in the back row, taking the ball on and putting his body on the line at most breakdowns.
With regular fly-half Dan Keyte out injured, centre Alex Pimlow was drafted in to play 10 and back-rower Chris O’Neil moved to full-back.
Upton’s gusto seemed to unsettle the feisty Pinley side and many skirmishes broke out across the park with the referee beginning to lose control.
However, Macfarlane calmed his troops and Upton got to half-time with an O’Neil penalty against two Pinley efforts to make it 6-3.
Upton turned to play with the wind and almost took the lead when centre Will Miekle kicked through but, as it seemed he would score, the ball got stuck in the mud and Pinley scrambled to clear.
After making their way to just outside Upton’s 22, Pinley were awarded a penalty and the home scrum-half took a quick tap-penalty and scooted through to score in the corner, making it 11-3.
O’Neil reduced the gap to 11-6 with a penalty but then came the turning point when Rob Heeley was sent to the bin for a dangerous tackle with players from all sides looking bemused after the veteran hooker had dived at the feet of the Pinley attacker.
With Heeley off the pitch, Pinley took advantage in the scrum and scored their second try, before adding a third from the final play of the game.