Date: Sat 8th Oct 2022
On Saturday Harlow returned from E15 with the spoils as an outstanding defensive performance laid the foundation for the 31-5 bonus point win against a more than capable East London RFC. With the game being moved to an outer pitch due to safety concerns both sets of backs struggled to find the space to break free on the narrow surface, it was the Red forwards who stepped up to take the game to their opponents in a hugely physical contest.
The Harlow pack with four changes from the previous week held sway at both set pieces and were able to ensure most East London ball obtained via this route was harassed and under constant threat.
Harlow began the game on the front foot as Danny Smith’s drop kick was skilfully plucked from the sky by second row Dan Stevenson, but early visits to the hosts twenty two were either held up or penalised. However six minutes in Harlow drew first blood as an East London clearing kick from the back of a scrum failed to get out of the 22 and from the resultant line out a maul with momentum ensued, which scrum half Ben Creasey took advantage of to catch the defence napping as he nipped in down the blind side for an unconverted try.
Harlow came again, trying to give the ball some width but with the nature of the pitch wingers of both teams found themselves being taken into touch by covering tacklers, or having to run into congested avenues where they were held up by committed defence.
A short while later though Harlow scored again having aggressively worked their way into home sides 22, Creasey sniped from the base of a ruck and although hauled down a metre from the line, tied in three defenders, quick ball left found the re organising defence with a mis-match and prop Ryan Clark took all before him over the line for the score. Smith duly obliged with the extra’s.
On 24 minutes the visitor’s were in again, a quick tap by Smith from a penalty for a high tackle, got the attack underway and despite valiant defence, Eoin Morrissey used his big frame to go in low and reach out to score under the sticks, Smith made no mistake with the conversion.
The try bonus point was secured not long before the break, a fine clearing kick by Smith was keenly chased by left winger Joel Drake and was rewarded as he tagged the retreating defender, from this the Red men turned over possession and a few phases later the impressive Stevenson smashed over for the score which Smith bettered with the further two. H.T. 26-0
If there were any thoughts that this East London side were going to go quietly from this fixture they were quickly dispelled as with renewed energy they tore into Harlow from the restart without really fashioning a chance to score. It was the visitors that gave them that opening as not for the first time a pass in the back line failed to go to hand and was hacked on. Although a score did not materialise Drake was yellow carded for impeding a runner, the penalty given was kicked to the corner, but came to nothing as the red pack miraculously turned the ball over again and Creasey kicked clear.
Fourteen men then became thirteen as centre Ross Stalley was sent to the bin for a high tackle, and this time the home side intelligently gave the ball some width to engineer a two man overlap out wide on the left wing for an unconverted try.
That they did not bother the scorecard again was down hugely to the forwards at scrum time as their increasing dominance obtained a number of penalties and ran down the clock on the sin bin’s. Indeed it was at the coal face from which Harlow’s final try was created, a scrum out wide right ten metres from the hosts line was guided expertly by number 8 Dave Archer, and a marvellous cohesive effort saw the pack march over the line triumphantly with Archer dropping onto the ball for the five points. Smiths attempt at goal drifted wide of the left post but it mattered little as with his successful kicks on the day the fly half passed the half century of points for the season.
Harlow then went to fourteen again as Creasey was given a rest for ten minutes for a high tackle, but Harlow were now used to being men down and defensively saw the game through, and when he returned Creasey kicked the ball off the pitch from a line out to end the game. Lots of tired bodies at the whistle, both sides had left everything on the pitch, a good game played in fine spirit, from a spectator’s view a very decent watch.