Date: Sun 17th Oct 2021
This fixture dropped into our schedule late as Wanstead moved from division 1 to 2 this season. Wanstead have been good adversaries over the last few years and dominated by strong runners we haven’t always felled. Today in Wanstead was a chance to bury the past and move forward.
After a strong start from Harlow it was the chance of Wanstead to go on the offensive. They had strong one out runners hammering at our defensive. Our defence worked as lumber jacks felling trees as one by one they were cut down. Only when we ran out of defenders did they cross the line and take the lead 0-5.
Harlow were quick to respond and after an error on the attack Wanstead had a scrum midway in their own 22. The pressure the forwards, particularly the front row of Atakan Alagoz, Charlie Jacques, Felix Waugh put on the Wanstead pack mean that Jack Rushworth at scrum half was able to be a pest at the back. The ball was passed and bounced loosely across the back line where the Harlow backs applied the pressure. From the loose ball Kai Young was able to collect and muscle his way over the line. Joseph Pankhurst slotted the conversion for Harlow to take the lead 5-7.
The Harlow pack were enjoying the freedom that seemed to be offered in midfield with Atakan Alagoz, Danny Billington and Charlie Jacques particularly enjoying their time with the ball in their hands. From such a charge Charlie Jacques burst, bounce and discreetly offloaded to help produce he next try. The offload landed in a confident Kai Young’s hands where he jinked nicely in limited space by the touch line then opened the throttle and burst to score. 5-12.
Wanstead were here to play, and they returned effectively to their one out runner approach. Bursting was followed once more by felling, until Matt Ross at scrum half, a school friend at Bishop’s Stortford with some of the Harlow players, spotted a gap and crossed the line near the posts. Fortunately for Harlow he just missed the conversion hitting the cross bar and Harlow took a slim two-point lead into half time. 10-12.
Half time 10 – 12.
The half time team talk reflected that this game required us to tackle their one out runners and jackal to win the ball. We need to make sure we commit enough to the break down to ensure we get keep the ball. Griffin Clark came onto the pitch on the wing in a team re-shuffle, Montelle Levy, and sometimes Kai Young played out outside centre with Ben Ferrier moving to number eight and Danny Billington moving up to the second row. Joseph Williams took a breather.
Harlow spent the first period of the second half looking for some of the wider space by committing players in tight. Brandon Jackson, Corey Kelman, Alfie Dutnall all joining in the forward surges. At the break down Jack Rushworth took a quick tap playing Joseph Pankhurst who had the foresight to see space behind their winger and put a grubber kick through which bounced up perfectly into Montelle Levy’s hands to run it in. Joseph had his kicking boots on a kicked a difficult conversion to take the score to 10-17.
Wanstead had a new tactic in the second half which revolved around their catch and drive line out. With the penalty count going in phases when it was against Harlow, Wanstead were able to kick the corners and take advantage. Wanstead kicked for the corner and caught a drove two lineouts in quick succession taking the score to 22-19.
The direct running lines today were not just coming from our forwards. Jamie Oliver at inside centre was working hard both in defence as an additional lumber jack but also carrying into the Wanstead players when given the opportunity. From a scrum Ben Ferrier carried from the base and on the next phase quickly player from Jack Rushworh, Joseph Pankhurst then a direct line from Jamie Oliver saw him bust through and touch down close to the posts. Joseph converted to put Harlow just in front 22-26.
The final 10 minutes of the game saw Joseph Williams return to the field to replace Brandon Jackson and see him get involved in the forward’s work.
Penalties continued to go the Wanstead way which lead to a line out close to the Harlow line. Repeat once more the driving line out and Wanstead scored out wide wrestling the lead back once more. 27-26.
In the dying minutes, Wanstead needed to win their own scrum and kick the ball dead to win the game. The Harlow pack had other ideas and turned the screw putting Wanstead on the back foot, a fumble by their scrum half from great pressure from Jack Rushworth meant the clock hadn’t gone red and there was time for a Harlow scrum. A dominant, confident scrum gave Ben Ferrier at number eight the chance to pick and go left with Montelle Levy and Kai Young in support exchanging passes working towards the Wanstead line. A power drive took us close and then repeating the Wanstead one out passing tactic Ben Ferrier fought his way to ground the ball. Joseph Pankhurst kicked a difficult kick as the last kick of the game delivering a Harlow victory, just! 27-32.
Work rate, desire and guts were shown today by the Harlow players and they deserved their win. An entertaining game with five tries scored by each team. Perhaps we should start charging admission?
Great games this week from several players however a special mention to Alfie Dutnall with some fine work at the break down in defence getting low in his tackles and over the ball to jackal winning us the ball.
Final Score 27 – 33
Tries: Kai Young (2), Montelle Levy, Jamie Oliver, Ben Ferrier
Conversions: Joseph Pankhurst (4)
Referee: Independent Society.
1. Atakan Alagoz, 2. Charlie Jacques, 3. Felix Waugh, 4. Joseph Williams, 5. Brandon Jackson, 6. Corey Kelman, 7. Alfie Dutnall, 8. Danny Billington, 9. Jack Rushworth, 10. Joseph Pankhurst, 11. Montelle Levy, 12. Jamie Oliver, 13. Ben Ferrier, 14. Kai Young, 15. Tobie Westbrook, 16. Griffin Clark