Date: Sat 29th Apr 2023
Harlow are on the way to Twickenham after winning a tense and enthralling Papa John’s cup semi- final against Cockermouth RFC 27-12. In front of a large crowd and played in excellent spirit both teams put on a display worthy of the occasion, leaving everything on the pitch in terms of commitment and endeavour.
Harlow began the game on the front foot, playing against a blustery wind coming from the farm end, using their big ball carriers to try and dent a decent and stubborn Wasps defence, recycling quickly the hosts may have scored early doors, as winger Joel Drake was adjudged to have knocked on over the line following a Ben Creasey kick over the top. Not deterred the Redmen came again and despite a Danny Smith kick at goal being blown off course they opened their account with a try from second row Louis Melton who ran a great line to take a Creasey short pass and stretch through a forest of limbs to dot down, the wind once again rebuffed Smith’s attempt at the conversion.
Cockermouth were far too good a side not to have their moments in the game and it was then that troubled the scoreboard next, a period of intense pressure from the visitors was initially stifled well by the red defensive unit, but with the wind not allowing clearing kicks to make any meaningful distance coupled with some breakdown infringements, Harlow could not break free and the Wasps pack engineered the chance to go over from close range for a converted score.
Harlow however soon returned serve, taking the opportunity to work their way back into the Wasps half, with a sustained attack in the black and yellow twenty-two, skipper Luke Bowering looked likely to score but a fine last gasp tackle saw the ball dislodged from his hand as he went over the chalk. Disappointment didn’t linger though as a minute later from a red zone scrum Smith found winger Harry Masini on the wrap round and the big winger strolled through for the score which allowed Smith to slot the extra two.
As the half time whistle blew, touch line talk was about using the wind to your advantage, but in truth neither side could tame its variable nature and most times during the match it was a hindrance not a help.
Harlow began the second forty as they had the first with a real conviction and snap in their play, so it was no surprise that they stretched their lead further, Creasey gave a late pass to centre Morgan Davies who manoeuvred like a red arrow to pierce the wasps defensive line for a converted score.
Harlow could not relax and were kept totally honest by the hard grafting Cockermouth team who were looking to exploit any lack of concentration in the red ranks and looked to have dangerous runners in their back line. The home side were continuing to apply pressure and thought to have scored again when Creasey scooted in from close range only to have the try disallowed for referee interference, this time frustration had not time to ferment, as from the scrum number 8 Brad Etherington picked and slipped the ball to Creasey who twisted in the tackle before pushing the ball to Drake who finished powerfully wide out
With the warm weather testing the fitness of both teams, Harlow began to give away some cheap penalties at the breakdown and the off side line, the Wasps seem to feed off this and launched a series of attacks, with the Redmen down to fourteen the visitors swung the ball from left wing to right, using the extra space to score a well-crafted unconverted score.
Despite the score Harlow’s lead looked a gap too far to bridge and so it proved to be with the scorers only troubled once more by a Smith penalty to round out the contest, huge celebrations at full time but alongside respect for the oppo who had more than played their part in game that will live long in the memory. Two sides that had slogged it out at a ferocious pace for the full eighty having a beer on the pitch afterwards if that does not sum up this wonderful game, I do not know what does. Cockermouth RFC in truth did not know much about you as a club before this game, certainly do now, will follow your future with interest, “up the Wasp’s “