Harlow defeat weakened Thurrock in high-scoring encounter

By Chief Rugby Correspondent Ralph Henderson

18th Feb 2024 | Rugby


Thurrock responded to Harlow's early score by winning this line-out and setting up a maul which ended with Jack Cowman going over their their opening try.
Thurrock responded to Harlow's early score by winning this line-out and setting up a maul which ended with Jack Cowman going over their their opening try.

Thurrock 24, Harlow 48

HAVING defeated second-placed Harlow in the reverse fixture, Thurrock were hoping to cement their place in the higher echelons of Anglia 2 on Saturday (17 February).

With the Six Nations having a fallow week and a break from controversy, there was a big crowd at Oakfield.

Unfortunately, although Thurrock were buoyed by the return of Jack Cowman, they were still without eight key players, including the Holloway brothers, Dan Ulph, Harry Reynolds, Jamie Orr and influential leader, Niall Clifford.

This is not to make excuses. and the players who have come in have seized their opportunities, but it is incredibly difficult to adapt tactics and strategies to ever-changing personnel.

A fully-loaded Harlow were always going to provide a stern test for the Oakfielders and eventually the home side ran out of steam.

Thurrock and Harlow are on similar journeys.

Rugby developed in Harlow in the late sixties, when Education Director Gwynne Harris started employing Welsh teachers in Harlow schools.

Legendary Campion teacher, John Davies, played there in the Seventies as did Clive Shell, a friend of Lew Hughes and a future Welsh International. Even Saracens captain (and Thurrock's first coach) Don Harrigan, played at Ramsden Gorse as did their president, Allan Price.

Harlow played a master-stroke in 2017, when they sold their ground and acquired their new premises at Latton Park.

Both Harlow and Thurrock have some of the best facilities in Eastern England and are very close in out-comes this season.

Thurrock opened in sprightly fashion with skipper Ben Timson leading the way. Some good tactical kicking by Scott Chitty and Alex Jones found good field position before a penalty allowed Harlow to set up a drive. Their pack is a powerful unit and Sam Bucknall drove over for Danny Smith to convert.

A good attacking kick from Scott Chitty set up a position for Jack Cowman to cash in. Alex Jones converted before landing a close-range penalty to give the home side the lead.

A fine tackle by Kieran Yeomans kept his team in the hunt before another Chitty kick was collected superbly by Yuri Navti who raced under the posts.

This shocked Harlow into action.

A quick tap penalty by Danny Smith sent in William Garner. Shortly after scrum- half Ben Creasey meandered over to extend the lead.

Although Caolan Watts-Adams, Jay Jennings and Loka were having their usual line-out experience and Will Lewis and Lawrence Brown were getting through an enormous amount of groundwork, Harlow were increasing the pressure.

George Miles and Anthony Catchpole were shoring up the defence, while Angus Poole, Henry Bird and Rob Murphy were desperately seeking a way through.

The second half proved more problematical for Thurrock, especially after play was suspended for an injury to Jay Jennings.

Man of the match, No.8 Bradley Hetherington took matters into his own hands and crossed for three tries!

Thurrock were not to be denied and Yuri Navti grabbed his brace, a reward for perseverance!

Thurrock have enjoyed a good season to date and, at full strength, are a match for anyone. On this particular day they didn't quite have enough to complete the double!

Full marks to Harlow, who deserve their ascent to second place in the table. Thurrock sit sixth.

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