Date: Sat 22nd Oct 2022
Harlow secured their sixth consecutive bonus point win at Latton Park on Saturday with a 47-5 victory to retain their position as table toppers. In a performance that perhaps didn’t reach the heights of the previous week, it was still enough to see off a skillful and tenacious Campion outfit.
A realistic but satisfied coach Michael Weston commented after the game “ We anticipated that it would be physically and mentally challenging against a keen and well organised Campion side. Coming off an extremely tough contest last week, we knew we had to try and keep the momentum going. We didn’t quite function to our full potential but once we gave the ball some air we managed to stretch their defence and play more like we know we can. So overall we are happy with this performance, it was a professional display”
Indeed Harlow needed to show some character from very early on, as the Campion kick off caused indecision in the hosts ranks and the ball found touch via a red hand. From the line out the visitors set up an efficient maul which although brought to standstill saw the ball moved quickly to allow a Campion player to crash over tight to the left touch line for an unconverted try.
If there were concerns amongst home support, their fears were soon allayed as from the restart Harlow took the game to the opposition but without the needed accuracy to get across the line. However when a kickable penalty was turned down in favour of a scrum, the red pack continued their excellent form with another authoritative performance.
With the pressure growing on the visitors line a try seemed in the offing and when hooker Tom Garner found his front row partner Ryan Clark wide out right, the prop forced his way over to bring the scores level. A superb Danny Smith kick from virtually on the touch line put the home side in front.
Campion then had minutes of possession and Harlow were indebted to Smith and winger Ryan McGlone who had an excellent game, for committed tackles that foiled attacks when the visitors were threatening.
On 23 minutes Harlow scored again, Jack Elston stole Campion line out ball just within the home half, phases later a deliberate knock on stopped an overlap out left, but with penalty advantage the redmen stuck to their task, quickly switching the pill to the right wing where Harry Masini despite the attention of defenders crashed over, another testing kick found Smith equal to the task for the extras.
Harlow then lost their talismanic skipper Luke Bowering to a knee injury and whilst a blow it gave an opportunity to debutant Lewis Melton and the youngster did not disappoint, working well as a line out target and making hard yards in the carry.
The final score of the first period can be attributed to the whole pack, as a scrum awarded to Campion in their 22 was with no nonsense marched back toward its line, fracturing apart as it did so, despite the disruption, Bucknall and Morrissey diligently kept the drive on to allow Elston to break for an unconverted try.
Despite the score, there was a feeling of frustration amongst the team that some of the small things that make a complete performance were not quite going to plan, and much of this can be accredited to the visitors who were fast up in the tackle and harassed the red back line at every opportunity causing them to hang on to the ball perhaps that one step too far. A sign of a good side is to recognise that fact and remedy it, which is exactly what the Latton Park side did.
Early on in the second forty prop Louis Castiglione, not for the first time, went on a rampaging run, great hands through the backs saw Mcglone get over the line but some stirling defence by the opposition held him up. Creasey then fielded a long clearing kick and returned it with interest, spiralling in for a 50-22 and although from the line out the attack broke down, you could feel the screw begin to tighten. Not long after this another scrum gave Creasey armchair ball to set the backs off and with the defence being pulled all ways, Morrissey appeared in the line, and the big fella focussed the attention of would be tacklers, before putting Rob Macpherson Smith in for a converted try and the bonus point.
With confidence flowing, the next try was a cracker, Smith received the ball in the visitors red zone, and with foot work more akin to Saturday night “Strictly” mesmerised a clutch of five defenders to cross and score his first try of the season, which he improved with the two points from the tee.
The next score was not too bad either, Scott Whitby who had come off the bench, took control of the ball in the Campion half before showing his creativity , delivering a perfectly weighted up and under which Masini hunted down and took first bounce to touch down, Smith again did the honours to make it 40-5.
Campion attacked again, but Harlow were in no mood to relax and give up easy points, defending with admirable resolve even when Campion crossed the white wash they held the player up to earn the drop out. Great tackles by the Garner brother’s Tom and Will and replacement prop Alberto Di Dio, kept Campion at bay, and when the turnover came, Harlow then turned defence into attack as Masini and then Creasey raced into the opposition 22 ,the ball then arriving in the hands of Sam Bucknall, with defenders closing the big lock turned a likely score into a certain one as he unselfishly popped it left to Ross Stalley who made no mistake to claim the converted try and final score of the day.
A good day for Harlow rugby club what with this victory and the Ram’s winning well on the adjoining pitch, something Coach Weston was eager to acknowledge as he said “ I want to give a special mention to the 2nd XV (Rams) for a great victory in a league where they are often up against teams whose 1st XV’s play in some cases, two or three levels up from our own. That win takes them up to fourth in the table, which is a credit to their hard work. It is encouraging to see how the whole squad is developing, as players continue to push themselves into our thinking when it comes to selection.