Date: Sun 30th Oct 2016
The absence of season regulars Jakub Frankowski, Tyrone Kangwende, and Daniel Eby left the Harlow U14s with the prospect of having only thirteen players on game day. These fears were swiftly alleviated, however, by the addition of newcomers Ervins Bukejs and Connor Jackson. An unsteady start to the new season had left the young side with a chip on their shoulder and a point to prove. A point which was quick to sharpen.
Any doubts of the U14s desire to win were assuaged from the first whistle. A strong kick-off chase had brought Harlow deep inside the Billericay half. With momentum on their side, Louie Lynch took advantage of a scrambled defence to cut a line straight to the post and secure the first Harlow points of the day. Angelo Blasi provided the extra points to bring Harlow to an early 7-0 lead.
With the first points provided by Lynch, an old face of the team, it was then down to the two debutants to show what they could do. A steady stream of attack had brought Harlow back into the Billericay half. Jamie Gaunt and Jack Taylor stabbed at the visiting defence with consecutive runs which left the visitors on the back foot. This allowed for newcomer Ervins Bukejs to take the ball from the back of a ruck and power his way through the Billericay defence and over the try line. Blasi, again, provided the extra points to take the score to 14-0.
A long kick off and strong chase had pushed Harlow back into their own twenty two with no chance for a quick counter attack. Unwilling to be upstaged in his debut, however, Connor Jackson wasted no time in adding to the score board. Jackson, with the ball in one hand, had determined that forward was not the best way to the try line. With a twenty metre sideways gain, Jackson eventually straightened up and showed what he was able to do. A 60 metre run had left the defenders with no chance of catching him and Jackson placed the ball over the line and under the posts. The score at half time 21-0.
The second half began much the same as the first half had. A shallow kick from Billericay allowed for Lynch to secure the ball and charge forward. Two side steps and one broken tackle later; Lynch was under the posts with his second try of the day. Harlow now leading 28-0. A dominant first half and a stellar start to the second had left the home side with a belief that the game was already won. The visitors had a very different belief, however.
Realising that the Harlow side’s strength lied with their strong running, Billericay decided to starve them of any contact with the ball. The visiting side then conducted a masterclass in controlling possession. Short explosive runs allowed for the Billericay forwards to over load their rucks and secure control. Constant pressure and a drive to move forward pushed Billericay deep into the home side’s half; where they stayed for an extended period of time. Regular stabs at the home defence were swiftly dealt with by tackles from Matthew Brough, Tommy Johnston and Jamie Gaunt. It seemed as if the Billericay side were never to break through until a strong run from a visiting forward left the Harlow defence in disarray, and secured the visitor’s first points of the day. The score now 28-7.
The visitor’s now had a game plan; to camp deep into the Harlow half and keep possession to force a mistake. Again, Billericay brought the ball into the Harlow half and controlled the game. The result became much the same, despite the best efforts of Taylor and Johnston, a strong Billericay run brought the ball over the try line. The score now 28-14.
The remainder of the game became a back-and-forth affair of two distinct styles of rugby. The explosive and strong running of the Harlow side against the deliberate and methodical nature of the visiting Billericay team. The home team were next to score with Johnston receiving the ball from a powerful run from Suleiman Mohammed to score in the corner. This was followed up, immediately, from Bukejs with a mirror image of his first try bringing the score to 38-14.
Billericay proceeded to then keep control of the ball for the remainder of the game. Anytime a Harlow hand touched the ball it was deftly stolen and recycled back to the visitors. This constant control of play allowed for Billericay to secure two more tries before the final whistle was blown. The score ending at 38-26.
1.Suleiman Mohammed, 2.Connor Molloy, 3.Louie Lynch, 4.Nathan Dennis, 5.Tommy Johnston, 6.Jamie Gaunt, 7.Jack Taylor, 8.Ervins Bukejs, 9.Jude Clark, 10.Angelo Blasi, 11.Mitchell Miller, 12.Connor Jackson, 13.Zak Moroney, 14.Ben Peck, 15.Matthew Brough
Tries: Bukejs (2), Jackson (1), Johnston (1), Lynch (2)
Conversions: Blasi (4)
Man of the Match: Jamie Gaunt