Date: Sun 8th Jan 2017
This past weekend, Harlow played host to the visiting Brentwood U14s. A 50-0 loss, early in the season, had left the young Rams with a score to settle. With the sun out and the chill gone from the air; a determination to score points and concede none was all that was on the minds that morning. In rugby, it is usually true that the opening gambits of a game can set the pace for the remainder. This has never been truer, however, than with this U14s fixture.
The kick-off was Harlow’s and the ball was kicked deep in the Brentwood half; by,
centre, Louie Lynch. A strong chase from the home pack gave Brentwood little room to manoeuvre. Despite this, a quick change of angle and the visitors found themselves free of Harlow defenders. With no tacklers in sight and all the space in the world, Brentwood were storming towards the try-line in, what felt like, a bitter display of deja-vu. The shock and horror was broken, however, by a decisive tackle from full-back Tommy Johnston. The Harlow side scrambled to cover the defensive line and the Brentwood side rushed to capitalise. The following twenty five minutes became a display of the Harlow side’s fortitude in defence.
Brentwood repeatedly stabbed at the Harlow line, hoping to find an opening or exploit a weakness. Harlow repeatedly pushed back and shut down any chance the visitors had of finding glory. Every break through the middle was met with a brick wall of Harlow forwards. Every break around the fringes was saved by a desperate tackle from Johnston or the wingers; Zak Moroney and Tom Joseph. Twenty five minutes later, the Harlow side found respite.
A penalty in the Brentwood half gave the home side the opening they had worked for. With the visitors on the back-foot, from a Harlow counter-attack, a quick tap and pass to Jakub Frankowski was all that was needed. Electing to take the longest route possible, the number eight ran the entire width of the pitch to sneak around the back of the Brentwood defensive line. This play secured the first points of the game and brought the score to 5-0 at half-time.
The second half began with, what seemed like, a change of play in the home side. Harlow found themselves with the ball in-hand for an extended period of time, for the first time in the game. This change was short-lived. Despite dagger-like runs- from centres Jamie Gaunt and Louie Lynch- circumstances dictated that the Harlow side should find themselves, again, without possession. This began another period of extended and punishing attacks from the Brentwood back-line.
With this change of possession, Harlow were faced with another twenty minutes of consistent defence. The Brentwood side crept closer and closer to the Harlow try-line until turnovers and clearance kicks from Johnston and, captain, Jude Clark pushed them back from scoring. Quick covering tackles from the Harlow back-line and dominance from the Harlow flankers, Olly Faber and Ervins Bukejs left the visitors with no gateways to break through.
The last play had been called with a scrum at the halfway line, and the scoreline still stood at 5-0. A pick-and-go from Frankowski was all she wrote as the, number eight, charged through waiting defenders to secure Harlow’s second try of the day. Angelo Blasi secure the conversion. As the final whistle the score stood at 12-0 to Harlow.
1. Luke Cheetham, 2. Connor Molloy, 3. Suleiman Mohammed, 4. Nathan Hunt, 5. Nathan Dennis, 6. Ervins Bukejs, 7. Olly Faber, 8. Jakub Frankowski, 9. Jude Clark (c), 10. Angelo Blasi, 11. Zak Moroney, 12. Jamie Gaunt, 13. Louie Lynch, 14. Tom Joseph, 15. Tommy Johnston, 16. Mitchell Miller, 17. Brad Edwards, 18. Daniel Porter,
Tries: Frankowski (2)
Men of the Match: Johnston (Backs); Faber (Forwards)