Date: Sat 11th Mar 2023
Harlow secured promotion and the league title at the weekend beating a spirited East London RFC 78-7. The Redmen completed the feat with a performance of power and purpose in front of a big crowd who witnessed them score twelve tries in the process.
The hosts had the best possible start scoring after only five minutes, from a line out deep in the visitors red zone, accurate arrows from hooker Tom Garner found the ever reliable Jack Elston, a well-executed rolling maul ensued with Will Garner leading the way allowing his brother Tom to finish what he had started by grounding the ball for the five points.
Some five minutes later Harlow were in again, as from a ruck five metres out Scott Whitby playing heads up rugby broke blind and forced his way over for the try which was brilliantly converted by fly half Danny Smith.
Despite Harlow’s physical pack having the upper hand East London to their credit were putting in a shift defensively and it was another ten minutes before the Latton Park side scored again, from a stable scrum number eight Brad Etherington shifted the ball to Ben Creasey and the scrum half ran elusively from twenty metres out to go behind the sticks for a converted score.
East London then had their best period of the game, maintaining possession well, they worked the ball close to the red line and after several attempts breached the Harlow defence to take the converted score which they rightly celebrated.
A reaction was required and that was what the Harlow supporter’s got, from the restart winger Harry Masini bundled the visitors ball receiver into touch, from the line out excellent ball retention and distribution saw the ball moved from right wing to left where a flat pass from Smith allowed Rob Macpherson-Smith to touch down for the bonus point try.
The Redmen now had wind in their sails and shortly after scored again as centre Morgan Davies made an incisive dent in the visitors defence, clean ruck ball allowed Creasey to pass quickly to prop Jack Christy and he in turn fed fellow front rower Louis Castiglione who steamed over for his third try in four games.
With game standing at 31-7 at the turnaround Harlow were solidly in the driving seat but on the restart, it was the visitors that might have scored again, using some hard-won possession they managed to build up a measure of continuity and were only foiled by a text book defensive tackle by Macpherson-Smith.
After this though Harlow clicked into gear, a fabulous counter by Davies and Joel Drake turned defence into attack and took the ball to just outside the East London twenty-two, good movement and structure saw Creasey using a shimmy and step to score his second.
Brad Etherington then opened his account for the day a well worked line out move saw him stroll over for a converted score, he doubled his tally soon after as the visitors scrum was driven back across its own line, the number eight calmly placed the ball down for the five. With the coaches understandably pleased to see training paddock work come to fruition on game day, the next try was the icing on the cake, as Masini vacated his wing to slide in for the try, from a perfectly performed planned move.
East London had gotten through a mountain of defensive work and Harlow now looked dangerous every time they had the ball in hand, Etherington attained his hat trick with a fifteen-metre charge and Masini having been put into space by Ryan Clark accepted the chance to notch his brace.
The last score of the day owed much to Harlow’s attitude and defence, with the visitors on the attack they made their way to just outside the home twenty two, replacement winger Jack Almond made a good tackle and then had the presence of mind to release and splendidly drive the opposition off the ball to allow the turnover and set in motion the counter attack which ended with Clark the conduit again as he passed to Creasey who side stepped and dummied the defence to run in for his third from just inside the visitors half. Smith missed the final conversion but can be well satisfied with his haul of nine from twelve attempts, with the game over as a contest and the sun setting the referee called a halt to proceedings. With what the team has accomplished celebrations commenced but not before respectful handshakes with the visitors who had literally emptied the tank to compete in the game. Great atmosphere and a packed bar after, special day, special place.