Date: Sat 29th Oct 2022

Time: 3:00pm

Match Report

High flying Harlow continued their winning streak with a 40-15 victory at Wanstead on Saturday.

Despite the margin of the score this was anything but a comfortable afternoon for the men in red, against a well drilled home side they found themselves struggling at times with errors and technical infringement’s not helping their cause.

Coach Michael Weston acknowledged the fact as he spoke after the game

“We knew this was going to be a tough place to come to and get a win. We started the game well and showed our quality in the first 10 minutes but once Wanstead got going they became a hard side to deal with and had us under the pump for most of the first period.

The resilience of the boys really pleased me though, the way they held out through a very difficult period in the game but we didn’t help ourselves with a high penalty count, something we know we should be doing better on. Indeed Harlow were fast out of the blocks engineering pressure by moving the ball well, an early steal of Wanstead line out ball led to a kickable penalty and Danny Smith popped it over for the three points.

It got better a short while later when Smith sent a clearing penalty deep into the opposition’s red zone a textbook line out drive saw hooker Tom Garner dotting down for a converted score. Any thoughts that this was how the game was going to play out were quickly banished as the home side had not read that script, behind a weighty scrum that had the upper hand and they grew in confidence.

A text book line out drive of there own and a break through some uncharacteristic weak tackling produced two tries to give them the lead. Harlow were playing catch up rugby for the first time this season and with a penalty against count going into double figures they were finding it hard going, however a brief period of joined up phase play and pressure on opposition possession garnered them a penalty that Smith put away to take a slender lead into the break.

The second forty started much as the first had ended with Wanstead on the front foot, using the wind advantage they mounted a barrage of attacks on the red wall, which with Joel Drake as the stand out held firm allowing only a penalty to trouble the scoreboard.

As the game wore on Harlow suddenly started to click, the scrum began to get a semblance of parity, basic execution of core skills improved and the ball was allowed to work. When the hosts launched a long clearing kick into Harlow’s half fielded by Creasey there seemed little on but the scrum half put up a towering kick which he chased and caught, and with the Wanstead defence scrambling back the Latton Park side went onto the offensive spreading the ball from right to left to find Castiglione who fed his fellow prop Clark to touchdown for his fifth try of the season.

The conversion against a tricky inconsistent wind drifted to the right of the sticks. Not content with this the visitors pushed on again and from a five metre line out skipper Elston secured the Tom Garner arrow, a drive ensued from which Garner repeated the feat of the first half to notch his second try amongst much celebration.

The try bonus which had seemed an unlikely target with what had gone on earlier was obtained via Tom Garner who completed his hat trick, as Creasey broke tight to the left touch line it seemed he was destined to score but a sensible inside ball found the hooker, who was understandably happy with the outcome.

Harlow didn’t let the tempo falter, Masini who hadn’t seen much of the ball, finally received it in space and the winger showed his running pedigree as he tore through the defence toward the left corner, again with a tackler desperately grabbing his shirt he wisely gave the ball to Joel Drake who finished well for a deserved score.

The redmen were motoring now and drove forward again, Sam Bucknall stole an inaccurate line out, Jack Christy took it on before finding Creasey cutting a line, the half back took it into the Wanstead twenty two before being snared, Stalley took the pop pass and Josh Drake who had bust a gut to get on his shoulder brought the curtain down on the match with the final try. Coach Weston finished by saying”

I am very happy with how the boys regathered and refocused going into the second half, withstanding the pressure and locking them out. I was also pleased to see how we powered up and stretched the game in the last 20 minutes.

Today was a bit of an eye opener and a reminder that we have a lot of improvements to make still but this is a good away win and another step toward what we are trying to achieve this season.

Final mention of Tom Garner’s hat trick which takes his tally to four for the season, earlier this season this inattentive scribe failed to note that the hooker had scored against Braintree and then compounded the offence by giving the score to his brother, reparation made, well done for Saturday Tom.

Counties 1 Essex – Table