Date: Sat 4th Mar 2023
Harlow maintained their promotion ambitions with a bonus point victory away at Mavericks RFC, the Redmen had to overcome stiff resistance from their hosts but ran in five converted tries in a 38-0 win. Despite having seven changes to the squad of eighteen from last week’s game Harlow produced another cohesive defensive performance which laid the groundwork for the victory. On a tight compact pitch space was at a premium but the visitors showed commendable craft and aggression to fashion some excellent scores.
Harlow got off to a fast start and scored within five minutes, winger Harry Masini used the momentum of the slope to go on a powerful thirty metre run from just outside his own twenty two and despite being tackled the visitors used this attack to lay siege to the Maverick red zone. With the red forwards remaining composed in possession the good work was rewarded as centre Scott Whitby drew defenders and put Morgan Davies in for his first score for the 1st XV. Danny Smith then took the lead out to seven as he duly tucked away the extra two.
With the visitors having the better of the scrum set piece Harlow continued to attack and when they were awarded a penalty some 30 metres out, Smith popped over the three to stretch the lead to 10-0. Outside centre Davies was catching the eye in both defence and attack and it was no surprise when he doubled his tally for the day on about the thirty minute mark. Hooker Alberto Di Dio having his best game in the red shirt began the move with a dynamic fifteen metre carry into the home twenty two, with the defence retreating efficient recycling saw the ball find Davies cutting an excellent line and despite the attention of defenders he flew in to score. A more difficult conversion saw Smith with nerveless poise improve the five.
Harlow had their tails up, but Maverick’s refused to throw in the towel and competed for every metre making the first forty a fairly compelling watch, but it was the Redmen who scored again when after a turnover prop Louis Castiglione finished off a series of phases by forcing his way over the chalk from short range. Smith again did the honours to better the try and finish the scoring for the half.
Up the hill for the second forty Harlow’s next objective was the try bonus point and thankfully they didn’t have to wait long to achieve this. One of Harlow’s strengths this season has been the quality of the bench, there hasn’t been one game where the replacements have not made a positive contribution and this match was no exception. Jack Almond having come onto the wing at the break put in a deft kick through the Mavericks defensive line, Ben Creasey was first to the ball before returning it to Almond who drove to the line and was halted inches away from scoring however his efforts were rewarded as prop Jack Christy picked up and with Creasey latching well shunted over to the right of the sticks for the try. A routine conversion saw Smith take the score out to 31-0.
With the points in the bag the game became a little ragged and bogged down in the middle section of the pitch but Harlow managed to score once more, Creasey fielded a clearing kick in his own twenty two and sent it forty metres to find touch in Maverick territory, although the hosts claimed the line out ball superb gain line pressing from the visitors forced a knock on. With a scrum ten metres out number eight Brad Etherington took the initiative and bashed through the close defence to score his first try for the club and leave Smith with relatively simple conversion.
With nothing to lose Mavericks mustered a last quarter assault on the red line, with replacements Eoin Morrissey and debutant Chris Larkin Collins slipping seamlessly into the teak like defence Harlow repelled their attacks surviving a couple of anxious moments to finally see out the game.