Date: Sat 14th Jan 2023
Head coach Michael Weston declared himself to be “Unbelievably proud” after his Harlow side battled the elements and a formidable Dagenham outfit to take the day by 18 points to nil. Weston continued “ Myself and the coaching team are extremely pleased by this performance, the squad has worked so hard and really put in everything to get this result. We anticipated a hugely competitive game and that is exactly what we got, the weather really slowed the game down and we knew that our defence would be key, the boys didn’t disappoint.”
With heavy overnight rain falling on an already saturated playing surface, this game was never going to be feast of running rugby and so it proved to be as the Redmen produced a perfect defensive display, which was at the heart of a deserved victory. Harlow began the game with a gale at their backs blowing toward the scoreboard end which should have been a huge advantage but in truth kickers from either side found it hard to maintain accuracy and both teams arguably played better against the wind than with it.
Before their hands became wet and muddy Harlow were on the scoreboard with fly half Danny Smith looping beautifully for his second involvement in a classic backs move to find space to cross for a try. Smith then judged the wind well to take the extra two to make it 7-0 with three minutes gone. On ten minutes Smith further settled home support nerves as he nailed a penalty to take the lead out to 10-0, but as scoring went that was it for the half, as both teams went at each other with a passion producing a period of committed close quarter combat and hefty collisions. With the weather deteriorating again the ball was becoming difficult to handle and mistakes were common which killed any attacking momentum and as a cloud burst descended on the teams minutes before the break, touch line conversations were about how many points the visitors could get with the wind in their favour.
The truth was they could no more wrest control of it than their hosts had and struggled to find their range with their clearances and kick chases. Smith then converted a penalty, kicking low under the wind to add the three points and stretch the lead. The game was predominantly being played in the middle of the park and Dagenham who were always in contention had a period of battering the Red line but the Latton Park side refused to buckle restricting the visitors to only one visit into the Harlow twenty two for the entirety of the game. Not that Harlow had found their way into the red zone frequently as the visitors defence was equally effective, however with minutes left on the clock the Redmen scored their second try. From a scrum in their own half number eight Jack Elston picked from the back and gave scrum half Ben Creasey the space to rifle a long 50-22 kick into touch 8 metres from the Dagenham line, from the line out Sam Bucknall found his target and the Harlow pack began to rumble which allowed Harry Masini to exploit a weakness in the defensive alignment and scamper in for the five points.
Even then with the game in the bag, both teams went at it again and deserve great credit for remaining committed to their task from the first to the final whistle, which when it came left two very tired sets of players, Harlow knowing that they had to have used every ounce of energy to keep Dagenham at bay.
Despite the win Coach Weston is keen to keep the players focused on their next game as he said “ We are fully aware nothing’s is done and we have two hard games coming our way. With some injuries we will need to regroup, adapt and go again. We will enjoy tonight especially as the Rams and Saints got good wins, great to see a packed club house, thanks to our supporters as always, the lads really appreciate it.