Date: Sat 7th Jan 2023
Harlow resumed their season after a six week break at Upminster on Saturday and continued the sequence of bonus point wins with a fine 85-3 victory. The home side although defending with vigour and commitment had no answer to Harlow’s power, attacking enterprise and ability to off load the ball in the tackle as the Redmen scored thirteen tries with only a penalty against.
Hero of the day was winger Harry Masini who gave the Upminster defence a torrid afternoon with his forceful running as he claimed a double hat trick with three tries in each half.
On a sticky pitch Harlow began the first half down the slope with a cold unpredictable wind at their back and got off to the best possible start as after only three minutes a scything Masini run down the right flank saw him cross and touch down wide out. Ten minutes later he repeated the feat this time running behind the posts to allow fly half Danny Smith to complete his first conversion, one of ten he was successful with during the match taking his personal tally to over 150 points for the season so far.
Despite showing signs of rustiness from the long break canny distribution from half backs Smith and Ben Creasey allowed Harlow to continually test the hosts defensively and once the line was broken despite excellent last gasp tackles Alberto Di Dio from the floor found Creasey who dotted down and then Creasey similarly popped it up to Sam Bucknall to trundle over and gain the bonus point.
Upminster worthily took the game to Harlow but crucial penalties won at the breakdown by the Harlow pack relieved any pressure engendered and allowed the visitors to launch attacks one of which saw debutant second row Bami Coker on a muscular run before an excellent off load landed in the hands of prop Ryan Clark who showed fine mobility and awareness as he barged through a brave tackle to twist and place the ball down.
Harlow as with the home fixture were not entirely having it all their own way at scrum time, so it was vital that any Upminster mistakes were capitalised upon, something the visitors clinically accomplished as from turn over ball classy handling across the backs saw Joel Drake in for a try on the left flank, followed minutes before the break by the hat trick score from Masini to make it 45-0 at the turn around.
With weather conditions deteriorating requiring the use of the floodlights Harlow stayed at a pace, and with hooker Tom Garner off with a shoulder injury, Bucknall took over throwing duties and found his targets well to maintain the standard. Youngster Louis Melton then produced a moment of quality, as he broke the line some twenty metres or more out and rushed in for his first try for the first XV. Skipper Luke Bowering making a very welcome return from a long injury lay off then went close but it mattered little as Ryan Clark supporting well smashed over for his double. Creasey then broke but was felled metres from the line but a decent one handed off load saw Smith place the ball firmly over the chalk for the score. Masini then took over the show and put the icing on the cake, as he ran amok through an understandably tired defence for three more tries.
With the rain moving in and Upminster scoring a consolation penalty the referee blew for full time, a good performance from the Redmen to get their season restarted and ready for the tougher obstacles ahead.