Date: Sat 25th Feb 2023
Saturday at Latton Park saw Harlow welcome near neighbours Epping Upper Clapton RFC, in front of a large crowd Harlow continued their unbeaten campaign by deservedly winning a hugely physical contest 13 -0. Despite the intent to run the ball from both teams this was not a classic as the defensive pressure caused several errors and infringements leading to the pea in the whistle getting a fair old shelling. What could not be criticised was the effort spent by both sides to their cause as they tore into each other from the start, which was acknowledged by Harlow Coach Michael Weston.
“It was a game that required determination and doggedness, the boys certainly didn’t disappoint there. However, it was a frustrating contest in large sections but I always thought we were in control, we certainly matched their physicality and for me had game dominance for a large part of the eighty.”
Harlow started the game well and after several phases in the Epping half were awarded a penalty for not releasing in the tackle some 25 metres out in front of the posts, sensibly the decision was made to go for goal, Fly half Danny Smith judged the wind well to kick the three pointer.
Epping had already given notice that the game would not be one way traffic and could have been the next to trouble the scorers as their full back sliced through the Harlow defence but a fantastic Harry Masini covering tackle ensured the ball was held up over the line.
With a dominant scrum and effective rolling maul Harlow gained an element of control and on twenty-two minutes scored the first try of the game, deep in the visitors red zone, a Brad Etherington quick tap penalty caused a ruck to be formed and quick hands form Ben Creasey and Ryan Clark allowed left winger Ryan McGlone to crash over. The tricky wind that wreaked havoc for kickers from either side caused Smith’s conversion attempt to drift wide.
Epping continued to have periods of possession, but Harlow’s defensive line was largely immovable and managed to keep the visitors at arm’s length. Towards the end of the half Harlow began to turn the screw, a period of attacks in the visitors twenty-two led to Rob Macpherson Smith standing in at nine to allow Creasey to put a lofted pass into the hands of centre Scott Whitby who drew the defensive cover and passed to skipper Luke Bowering who dived over the chalk for the five.
After the half time break Harlow would have been keen to take the game away from the visitors but as it went the next forty remained scoreless, and although the Harlow pack got through a mountain of work in the tight exchanges a lot of it went unrewarded due to inaccuracy and perhaps unwise game management. On the positive side the defence remained resolute not allowing a much-improved Epping side a sniff of a try thus continuing the proud record of no tries conceded at home since last October. Despite the modest rewards in terms of the score for the effort exerted what cannot be disputed is that the guys are playing for the shirt and supporters can be rightly proud of the whole squad. Weston finished by saying “we have a few knocks from Saturday, so we must regroup and prepare for a strong end to the season. Thank you so much for the support as always, great to see such a busy clubhouse after the game, look forward to seeing you at Mavericks next week.”