Rugby: Wanstead found wanting against Harlow

Lifestyle / Tue 20th Jan 2015 at 11:20am

Wanstead 7 v 17 Harlow

Harlow’s 1st XV ran out 17-7 winners against Wanstead on Saturday. Playing down the hill in the first half Harlow made a good start, pinning the visitors in their own 22. The early pressure was rewarded after five minutes with the Harlow working a rolling maul close to the try line before Josh Drake touch the ball down. Danny Smith was successful with the conversation.

The next 15 minutes were nip and tuck as both teams struggled to make significant head way on a very heavy pitch. It wasn’t until the 26th minute, when Wanstead tried to put the ball wide that Harlow scored again. Good communication in defence from Grimley allowed Fricker to make an excellent tackle which resulted in a turnover. From the base of the ruck Charlie Woodington kicked downfield. Rob Mackie won the race to the ball, picking it up just short of the line and diving over in the corner. Smith missed the conversion to leave Harlow 12-0 up.

From the kick off, some sloppy play from Harlow meant that Wanstead were able to gain good field position for the first time in the match and began to exert some pressure. However, robust defence from the Harlow backs and forwards, with special mention to Kain Claridge for tackling around the fringes and veteran captain Shaun Roberts, 37, for his cover defence meant that Harlow managed to clear their lines without conceding.

This left time for one last Harlow attack before the end of the half. However, despite securing a lineout on the Wanstead 5m line, the forwards were unable to retain possession and an excellent opportunity went begging. After the game, in an effort to divert the blame, hooker Mark Bowering said, “It was Jon Unwin’s fault.”

Almost immediately from the restart Wanstead scored their first and only try of the match. Working the ball blind from a scrum in the middle of the pitch, the Wanstead No8 combined with their scrum half to create an overlap and they scored under the posts. Wanstead kicked the conversation to bring themselves within 5 points of Harlow with 35 minutes to play.

This heralded the start of some intense pressure on the Harlow line, with the home team struggling to escape from their 22 on an increasingly muddy pitch. Fortunately, Harlow’s defence held with strong tackling forcing the Wanstead No8 to drop the ball just short of the line.

From then on both teams struggled to keep hold of the ball for any length of time. Harlow’s backs kicked loosely, which meant that the team never really developed a platform in the second half. However, with 10 minutes to go and Wanstead attacking on the halfway line, Rob Mackie intercepted a pass and managed to outpace the chasing defenders to score his second try and secure the win for Harlow.

Speaking after the game, Harlow coach Lee Harron said, “I’m delighted that we won today. The pitch made it hard for both sides but our grit and determination won through. I’m especially pleased that Kerry Palmer got another run out – to be playing 6 and half minutes every week at the age of 40 is inspiring.”

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