Rugby: Harlow impress against Wansted

Lifestyle / Wed 16th Dec 2015 at 02:03pm

London & SE Div III NE

Harlow 24 Wansted 15

APART from a few drops, the rain held off but a bitterly cold cross wind made handling difficult. Harlow came away with the win which was vital in their league challenge and by scoring four tries made sure of the all important bonus point.

Harlow started the game well going down the slope with the wind on their backs and contained Wanstead in their 22. The Harlow pack showed their dominance in the scrum by driving Wanstead off the ball in the rucks and set pieces. In mauls they made good ground and gave the backs useful possession. From a scrum Harlow no.8 Kain Claridge broke and popped the ball to centre Scott Whitby who crashed over the line from 10 metres out to put Harlow in the lead after 5 minutes. Danny Smith converting making it 7- 0. Wanstead were not giving in and persevered by driving the ball up the field against the wind. Eventually their backs pulled Harlow defence out of position and they switched the ball to the right wing finding an overlap and scoring a try; cutting the margin to  7-5. Although Harlow continued to dominate, handling errors caused their play to break down, frustrating a number of scoring opportunities. Half way through the first half Smith used the wind to kick the ball into touch 15 metres from the Wanstead line. From the line out Claridge  collected the ball and surged over the line for the try and a 12 – 5 margin. Wanstead again did not give up and replied with a try & conversion levelling the score at 12-12.

In the closing minutes of the first half Harlow No. 10 Danny Smith broke and found centre Ross Stalley on his shoulder who cut through Wanstead’s defence to ensure Harlow had a lead at half time. Wanstead however picked up a penalty making the margin 19 – 15 to Harlow at the turnaround.

The beginning of the second half saw fly-half Smith stopped in his tracks with a big Wanstead tackle which forced him to leave the field with an injury. Playing up the hill Harlow worked hard against the weather conditions and retained the ball well. They dominated the set scrums and made good use of their superiority in the mauls.  Wanstead found it hard to get into Harlow’s half. Harlow’s patience paid off  when they scrummaged for the second time and drove Wanstead backwards with Kain Claridge picking up and scoring an easy try. In the closing minutes of the game Wanstead pushed Harlow back into their 22 and for a while they were forced to defend against a powerful attack. Eventually they managed to get position and make touch 30 yards up field. In the closing minutes they kept play in midfield to secure a 24 – 15. win at the final whistle.

Tries: Scott Whitby, Kain Claridge (2), Ross Stalley,
Conversions: Danny Smith (2)

Harlow Team: 1. James Ephgrave 2. Danny Stonehouse, 3.Danny Fitzgerald, 4. Mark Twiner, 5. Kerry Palmer, 6. Shaun Roberts, 7. Mark Bowering, 8. Kain Clarridge, 9. Jake Kent-Pope, 10. Danny Smith, 11. Jamie Fricker , 12. Scott Whitby, 13. Ross Stalley, 14. Alasdair Phillips, 15. Rob Mackie, 16.Charlie Robinson, 17. James Clark, 18. Ashley Westall

This win puts Harlow into 3rd place in the league on equal points with local rivals Upper Clapton who hold on to second place by virtue of a superior points difference. On Saturday Clapton lost 7 – 5 away to fourth placed Old Cooperians. Next weekend’s fixtures will see the completion of the first half of the league competition and in the new year all the clubs will start playing the return fixtures. West Norfolk are top of the league but have already played all their matches for the first half of the competition. This gives the chasing clubs; Upper Clapton, Harlow and O. Cooperians a chance to narrow the gap. Next Saturday Upper Clapton are away to 7th placed May and Baker, Harlow are away to 10th placed Upminster and O. Cooperians are home to 9th placed Southwold. No doubt all three clubs will be keen to secure the win that keeps them in the hunt.

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