Rugby: Harlow dig deep to keep unbeaten record

Rugby / Wed 16th Nov 2022 at 08:26am

HARLOW continue to lead the way at the top of the table after a 34-17 victory on the road against Romford & Gidea Park.

Whilst not at their fluent best and having to negotiate some anxious moments, they still had enough to see off a determined and persistent opposition.

Coach Michael Weston spoke after the game, “Today was a massive test, we took control in the early part but then struggled to keep our standards to our usual levels, some of that was us but also Romford performed really well and tested us both mentally and physically.

This game was another great learning experience for this group, game control consistency is an aspect we can still improve on as is our technical discipline. Some of the handling errors today were most unlike us and that with those areas mentioned we will go away and work on in the coming weeks to ensure we continue to perform to the levels we have set out to attain”

Harlow started well and were quickly into their groove and so it was no great surprise when Rob Macpherson-Smith opened the scoring, the full back being on hand to finish off a powerful run by Harry Masini on the right wing for an unconverted score. The visitors, missing some of their bulk did not have total domination at scrum time but certainly had enough control to allow skipper Jack Elston to supply decent ball to get the backs away, however for some reason passes were not sticking and promising positions were lost.

However all these component parts came together for the next score, a scrum in the left channel just outside the Romford twenty two allowed Elston to pick and find scrum half Creasey who held his pass well to supply Rik Hobbs bursting through, the centre then adroitly found Joel Drake who completed the move for the score and allowed Danny Smith to open his account with the two. With a 12 point lead Harlow looked comfortable but a succession of breakdown infringements and a harsh forward pass call when a break was on stymied the redmens momentum and Romford to their credit took full advantage with two scores and a conversion to bring the game level going toward the break.

The visitors needed inspiration and it came via a brilliant jackal turnover in midfield by flanker Tom Garner, from the penalty and resulting line out win, the ball was transferred right to left where Scott Whitby tied in a couple of defenders before releasing Drake who with a great step crashed over the chalk for his brace. Against a stiffening wind Smith’s conversion attempt drifted wide as the referee whistled for half time.

With the said wind at their backs on the restart Harlow had the majority of possession and territory for the next quarter, but though the idea and intent was there the execution was not and several attacks came to nothing. With both half backs making big metres with clearing kicks Harlow continued to bombard the Romford back line and when an error gave the visitors a scrum in the right channel 10 metres from the home line, Elston seeing the defence was narrow took the ball from the base and strolled up the blindside for the bonus point score. Harlow were in again minute’s later a fantastic low tackle from sub Mikey Lyons downed his man and allowed Ryan Clark to lock onto the ball, winning a turnover penalty which Smith dispatched to touch inside Romford’s 22.

The hosts then took the line out but the tap down was snaffled by the alert prop Clark, who with a step and a fend finished gloriously wide left. The visitors final score of the day again came from a jackal penalty this time obtained by fly half Smith to demonstrate that backs do get their hair dirty sometimes. He then punished Romford with a long touch finder to about 7 metres out in the right channel, a well executed catch and drive saw Ryan Clark peel from the back and with a clever short pass found Creasey who slid in for the five from which Smith finished what he had started by nailing the difficult conversion. With the game in the bag Harlow may have thought they could relax but the Romford side who could not be faulted for their effort came again and scored a fine try with minutes to go to make the final score 34-17. Coach Weston added “ We are super pleased that we managed to get our 9th bonus point win in a row and with the Rams (2nd XV) grabbing a great victory at Westcliff, it’s a good day for the club. We are looking forwards to having a break this week to let the boys rest and hopefully get some key players back from injury. “

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