Date: Sat 15th Oct 2022

Time: 3:00pm

Match Report

Last Saturday Harlow made the trip to Dagenham to face the side that were top of the table and had beat them in all three meetings in the previous season.

This time out though the Latton Park side played with a feverish intensity in defence and a sensible well managed game in attack to take a hard won but convincing victory 49-7.

An obviously delighted Head Coach Michael Weston said “ I am immensely proud of the boy’s performance. We knew we were in for a tough game as Dagenham are a very good side, with a record to prove it. In light of that we are so pleased how the boys managed the game, our control of the ball was superb, it is something that we have been working a lot on in training.

On a tight compact pitch Harlow opted to play with the stiff breeze at their backs and had the first attack in the third minute, a long box kick from scrum half Ben Creasey was knocked on by his opposite number and although the following attack broke down, the scrum from which it had originated gave an early indication of the Redmen’s set piece power. In the early skirmishes both side’s were tested defensively and the breakdown was keenly contested resulting in a number of penalties to each, however it was a scrum penalty to Harlow that got the scoring underway, as after the kick to the corner and effectual recycling, Creasey found fly half Danny Smith in the pocket and he calmly slotted the drop kick for the three points.

The scoreboard was soon turning again, a Dagenham line-out deep in the Harlow 22 was overthrown, flanker Will Garner reacted first and ran the ball out to start the charge, great support enabled the visitors to make headway into the home half and earn a penalty, which Smith duly dispatched to make it six nil. Harlow’s first try of the game came midway through the half, Dagenham enjoying a period of possession we’re attacking the Harlow line, but their efforts were foundering on a flint like defence, and when the ball came loose in the tackle, right wing Harry Masini scooped it up and ran the full length to score his fifth try of the season.

On the 28th minute Harlow lost their influential number 8 Dave Archer to what is believed to be an Achilles injury and he was replaced in the pack by debutant Sam Bucknall who went into the second row with Jack Elston taking over the back row position.

Any concerns that the changes would check the effectiveness of the Redmen were quickly dispelled as at the next scrum the Harlow eight with Morrissey and Bucknall in tandem shunted the home pack backwards to earn another penalty. With hooker Tom Garner negotiating the tricky wind to find his line out jumpers well, and half backs Creasey and Smith kicking intelligently from the hand to pin Dagenham back at every opportunity, pressure began to build on the hosts and with that infringements began to occur.

In a period of less than ten minutes before the end of the first period the Central Park side coughed up four penalties that were in range of the boot of Danny Smith, and he exacted full payment by taking 12 points. A yellow card further undermined the home sides efforts to claw their way into the game, and Harlow used this to their advantage to score a try on the stroke of half time.

Another athletic run by Masini caused a fifth penalty to be awarded wide out right, this time the Latton Park side elected for the scrum, from which a training night move saw Masini came off his wing to incisively cut through the defence and go in under the sticks.

Harlow were the first to trouble the scorers in the second half as excellent phase play got them into Dagenham’s red zone which allowed centre Ross Stalley to step expertly around his defender to go under the uprights. Talk on the touch line amongst supporters was about the need for the try bonus point but when the opportunity arose Creasey again supplied the pass to his half back partner Smith who adroitly popped over a second drop goal to keep the scoreboard turning after a period of inactivity.

Dagenham then registered a score as from several close range thrusts they managed to finally pierce the red line for a converted try.

The game was then held up for an injury to a Dagenham player, (who thankfully was not as seriously injured as first feared, we wish him well in his recovery) which necessitated a move to the next door pitch. With the interruption the home sides energy began to ebb away and they were not helped when Creasey was tackled late and they found themselves down to fourteen again.

In the dying ember’s of the game Harlow found themselves with a scrum put in about 6 metres out from the home line, with the ball at Elston’s feet they drove inexorably forward, only being brought to a halt by the opposition nine diving in amongst the feet to try and stop the certain score which led to the inevitable penalty try.

The celebration on the pitch was mirrored by that of a decent travelling support and through the sound of the cheers the whistle was to be heard bringing the proceedings to an end.

Shout-out’s for captain Luke Bowering who had an outstanding game and led by example, to Danny Smith for a personal tally of 27 points, and indeed to numbers 1-18 who played their part in an exceptional win.

Coach Weston added “we know we have to keep our feet on the ground with a very tough set of fixtures to come. Today was an extremely physical game and there are a few knocks, so we need to regroup this week and then go again to build on this win. As always we must continue to work as hard as possible to achieve the goals we have set ourselves.”