Date: Sat 18th Feb 2023
Harlow welcomed Romford & Gidea Park to Latton Park on Saturday where the visitors battled well throughout but were ultimately well beaten 62-3 as the Redmen stretched their unbeaten run to seventeen games. Whilst enjoying a decent amount of possession Romford could find no way through the Harlow rear guard and had no answer to the multiple threats contained within the hosts back division.
Harlow had a couple of changes to their line up giving a debut at number eight to recent signing Brad Etherington who had an encouraging first start with some abrasive ball carries and an aggressive defensive performance, whilst skipper Luke Bowering returned to the position of his youth at outside centre and turned back the clock with an excellent eighty minutes.
Romford started the the first five minutes positively, keeping the ball tight and using their ball carriers to work their way into the Harlow twenty two but eventually the home side wrested back possession and cleared to about half way. Romford’s throw to the back went askew and was snaffled by Ryan Clark who trundled into the visitors half and three phases later with the Romford defence stretched to the limit full back Rob Macpherson-Smith intelligently entered the line to draw the last defender and leave Joel Drake a clear run to the line for an unconverted score.
Seven minutes later Harlow scored again as the visitors attempted to clear from their own red zone the kick against the wind ended up in the hands of Drake who returned it with interest and from the ruck the ball was spread rapidly from left to right where Harry Masini clinically exploited the space in the five metre channel to notch his twentieth try of the season. Fly half Danny Smith with a fantastic kick tight to the right touch line added the extra two to take his personal points tally to 198 for the season.
Another period of Romford pressure foundered on some physical tackling with the ball breaking forward, Macpherson-Smith launched a high clearing kick which bounced horribly for the covering defender who was hunted down by Ben Creasey and Masini, with a ruck formed both players then cleared out their opponents leaving the ball free to be conveyed quickly left where Scott Whitby supplied Drake in acres of space to score his second and leave Smith with a tricky conversion, his attempt smacked against the left upright and stayed out.
The next target was the try bonus point, with a home line out on the half way line in front of the club house Will Garner rose high and passed down to his scrum half Creasey who feigned to pass before stepping through a huge gap and showing a clean pair of heels to the defence to score, this time Smith made no mistake to become a double centurion. (4 Try’s, 10 pens, 2 Drop goals and 72 conversions.)
With the half time break approaching Harlow scored twice more, the first a total wrecking ball of a run from prop Louis Castiglione who received the ball on the Romford twenty two metre line and left a wake of tacklers as he knee pumped his way over the line and then Creasey ran over half the length of the pitch to go in close to the sticks. Both tries were converted by Smith. HT 38-0
Half time thoughts were that the score was a little harsh on Romford as the effort and commitment expended perhaps deserved more and after the restart they got a penalty which was slotted over for the three points. Creasey then completed his hat trick as he received the ball from Etherington at the base of a scrum and dummied his way through the twenty two and under the posts to give Smith an easy two.
With having two games conceded in the last couple of weeks the Redmen can be forgiven in lacking a little sharpness as the game wore on, the bench of Louis Melton, Alfie Clark and Jack Christy all entered the fray to contribute effectively. Whitby was the next to score as a lovely one handed off load by Bowering put him in wide out left for an unconverted try, but Smith did improve the next try as Alfie Clark crashed over for his first of the season. The final try was a beauty as Smith sent a quality kick pass into the hands of Masini to round out the scoring for the day and complete his brace.