Date: Sat 1st Apr 2023
Harlow began their Papa Johns Counties 1 cup
Campaign at Latton Park last Saturday by beating a well coached Wymondham side by 53 points to 7. With changes to the squad in terms of personnel and positioning it would have been understandable if the Redmen had taken time to find their feet in this game but in fact it was the complete opposite as they were quickly into their stride and the opening spell was one way traffic with the visitors not allowed to settle.
An obviously delighted coach Michael Weston commented “ We have had a few boys missing today but the lads that have come in have fitted in seamlessly, which shows the depth of the squad and the benefits of large numbers at training. Saturday was a good chance to test ourselves against new opponents, the boys did a great job with one of the best performances of the season. We set clear targets this year to keep improving always, there was to be no sitting back and taking it easy, especially as we look ahead to the next twelve months.”
Harlow may have scored in the opening minutes but the ball was dropped with the line a begging however they got points on the board a short while later as relentless pressure coughed up a break down penalty which scrum half Ben Creasey in charge of the tee for the day dispatched for three points.
Watching supporters did not have to wait long for the first try as from a line out deep in the visitors red zone the ball was plucked from the air by Luke Bowering and a couple of phases later Centre Scott Whitby twisted over the line for the score which Creasey improved with the extras.
Bowering repeated the feat again not long after as he claimed an accurate Brad Etherington throw in, with the resultant rolling maul gaining momentum flanker Morgan Davies like a thief in the night stole away to run in untouched, Creasey converted well to improve the try.
The home set piece was working well and it was from another line out that the third try came, Creasey gained the territory and possession with a 50-22 kick, Bami Coker this time leapt high with the lift to clutch the ball, and excellent retention at the ruck allowed Creasey to force his way over to take his try tally to twenty for the season. With the conversion missed Wymondham who had found it tough going managed to put a period of possession together and worked their way into the Harlow half but a good kick return had them back on their own twenty two and when excellent harassment had the visitors infringing Creasey sensibly popped over the three points.
The Norfolk side responded well to that set back and were too good a side not to have a say in the game producing some coherent and enterprising play either side of the half time interval helped by Harlow being down to fourteen for a high tackle yellow. However this Harlow side feeds off adversity and once again a fine defensive performance did not allow the visitors a sniff of a try and it was the hosts who got the board turning again, fly half Rob Macpherson Smith sending a penalty kick deep into the visitors half allowed the Redmen to set up an attack and phases later prop Jack Christy bustled over for a converted score.
With Creasey and Macpherson Smith pulling the strings well Harlow continued to press and an excellent kick chase kept Wymondham pinned in their own half which resulted in a string of penalties, with a scrum option taken Whitby broke and fed Alex Perry who growing in stature fixed his defender and calmly returned the ball to Whitby who bagged his brace close to the posts allowing Creasey to make it a seven pointer.
Immediately from the restart Harlow scored again as the kick was safely fielded by replacement Josh Drake a couple of crash ups by the big lads saw the ball spread to the back’s,excellent hands from Perry gave the opportunity for Chris Larkin Collins to switch the ball inside to winger Joel Drake coming in off the left flank, he then ghosted through the defence and although felled was not held, so with composure he rose and plunged over for a converted score.
With game coming to a close Harlow got their final try of the day, with the forwards continuing to make inroads a smooth Coker short pass saw prop Louis Castiglione charge through and behind the posts to give Creasey a straight forward conversion. Wymondham to their credit were still testing the red defence to the end and it took a committed big tackle from Nathan Hoole Jackson to repel a particular attack but they were not to be denied as from a hack through of a loose ball they won the race to get a converted score their performance deserved.
Coach Weston added “ I would like to give special mention to Alex (Perry) and Ed (Oakes) another two colts graduates on show today, this gives us as a coaching team and indeed the club reasons to be excited for the future. We now look forward to the drawer to see where are next challenge will be”