Date: Sat 5th Nov 2022
An accomplished Harlow performance proved too much for a visiting Old Cooperians side at Latton Park on Saturday, the home side amassed 82 unanswered points in a bonus point win that sees them retain their place at the summit of the league table.
With the replacements from the Wanstead match all getting starts in this game, Harlow had space on the bench for squad players with points to prove, which upon entering the fray they did splendidly. Harlow started strongly and early penalties won indicated that the pack under the guidance of captain Jack Elston would be a mighty test for the Cooperians eight. This proved to be the case as within five minutes scrum half Ben Creasey picked from from the base of steady scrummage, and released his pass on point to find centre Rik Hobbs cutting against the grain and slicing through for a converted score.
A short while later Hobb’s was the beneficiary of a fine Joel Drake run and pass to claim his second try which Danny Smith neatly converted. Harlow then lost second row Josh Drake to a knee injury and his place was taken by James Clark, who was immediately in the thick of the game, and linked well with Sam Bucknall in the second row to ensure no loss of power at the set piece.
The scoreboard turned again when the ever dangerous Harry Masini embarked on a mazy run into the visitors twenty two and although caught kept the ball alive for the tracking Creasey to fly in round the back of the sticks for the converted score. Joel Drake then notched his first of the day, intelligently coming off the left wing to support Masini on the right and being rewarded with an inside pass to go over for the five, which was the only try that the metronomic Smith did not add the extras to. The forwards were now causing real damage to the opposition pack at the set piece and from this comfortable possession Hobbs found his centre partner Scot Whitby running a line that was too intense for the scrambling defence and he touched down for his first score of the season. Hobbs who was having a fine first forty then completed his hat trick, finishing off some first rate handling wide out left, an exquisite kick from Smith added the two. Both side’s were then reduced to fourteen as the official decided rightly that some cuddles had become overly enthusiastic.
This break in play seemed to give the visitors some impetus but the red defence were in no mood to give anything away and remained resolute. The Cooperian’s pressure them came to a shuddering halt as dropped possession landed at the feet of the scavenging Masini, who with a couple of steps broke the line and ran fifty metres under the posts to make it 47-0 at the break.
Harlow started the second period with both remaining subs on the pitch as Mikey Lyons went to the flank and debutant Ellis Hester onto the right wing, I am sure the coaches were looking for some fresh impact from the young players and that’s exactly what they got. A quick tap penalty from Creasey was taken on by James Clark and Will Garner before Lyons with his first touch of the ball powered over from short range for the converted score. Despite the ball being slippery due to pre match rain, Harlow now decided to show case their handling skills and when the ball was whipped across the back line to the waiting Hester, the watching balcony came alive as they proudly roared the home grown youngster over the line for a magical score.
Smith then added to the memory with a “ bend it like Smithy” moment as he kicked against the wind. Harlow scored two further tries down the left channel, courtesy of Joel Drake and Rob Macpherson Smith both finishing off dexterous work as the ball travelled accurately via a number of players.
Creasey closed out the scoring for the day as he followed the raiding Hester out left and received a mature, perfectly timed inside pass to take the ball behind the sticks to allow Smith to take his contribution with the boot to 22 points.