Date: Sat 28th Jan 2017
Red Men dig deep to stay top
Southwold 22 Harlow 27
Harlow passed a major test on Saturday when they won 27-22 away at fellow title challengers Southwold.
Playing into a strong wind in the first half Harlow were immediately pinned back in their own 22. However, patient defence and good, accurate clearance kicks from half backs Danny Smith and Charlie Woodington meant the red men were able to weather the early storm unscathed.
After 15 minutes Harlow turned defence into attack, forcing a turnover in their own half. The ball was quickly moved away from the scrambling Southwold defence to Danny Smith who scored under the posts. 7-0 to Harlow.
The rest of the half followed a similar pattern – Harlow working exceptionally hard in defence to force turn overs. The back row of Kain Claridge, Shaun Roberts and Michael Weston all deserve a lot of credit.
When they did have the ball Harlow were clinical. After 25 minutes, strong running from Whitby and Tarsey punched holes in the home team’s defensive line and created quick ball for the stretching Ross Stalley to touch down in the corner.
Through the second quarter Southwold looked to turn the Harlow defence by kicking from deep. However, their disorganised kick chase allowed full back Rob Mackie too much space and he broke through before off-loading to Stalley. The ball was moved wide again, with Weston scoring in the corner. 17-0 with 35 minutes gone.
There was still time for one more Southwold attack. A good lineout was driven close to the Harlow line to suck in the defence before the home team spread the ball wide and the centre touched down under the post. 17-7 at halftime.
The second half started in a similar fashion to the first. Southwold exerting pressure and eventually forcing a penalty in front of the post to close the gap to seven points.
The next ten minutes were nip and tuck with Harlow winning the exchanges in midfield to force a penalty 40m from goal. Smith stepped up to covert.
Now came the Southwold assault. Utilising their powerful pack and the slope the home team tightened the game up and managed to force James Ephgrave into a giving away a penalty for which he was sin binned. Opting for the scrum, the pressure eventually told and the referee awarded a penalty try. The score was 20-17 with 10 minutes to play.
In a great show of character Harlow went back on the attack. Securing the ball in the Southwold 22 they went through the phases with both backs and forwards making inroads. With 5 minutes to go Harlow scored their fourth try of the match. This time it was skipper Shaun Roberts using all his experience to get over the line. Stalley converted to give Harlow a 10 point lead.
There was still time for one more Southwold try but it had no impact on the result.
Speaking after the game, Lee Harron said, “This was a great team performance against really strong opposition. The character the boys showed in defence was excellent and I was especially pleased with how well we took our chances.”
Tries: Smith, Stalley, Weston, Smith
Conversions: Smith, Stalley