Harlow 12 West Norfolk 48
West Norfolk produced a super display of attacking rugby on their travels as they swept aside fourth placed Harlow.
The bonus point win now ensures an exciting finish to the season as the North Wootton club are level on points with second placed Cantabs with just two games to go and all to play for as they chase a promotion spot in London North East 3.
West fielded a strong side, with the return of Dave Harrison at scrum half and Harry Mahoney at centre, as well as seeing Charlie Moore coming back into the squad.
Facing a powerful pack, West recognised that they would need to be at the top of their game to overcome their hosts. However, with the wide pitch in good condition, the visitors were confident that they could create some fast attacking rugby that has become their trademark.
Kicking off into a slight wind, West were forced to defend for much of the opening quarter as Harlow punched the ball up the centre. A penalty kick for not rolling away at the tackle drifted wide. West responded with some crunching tackles from the second row combination Will Dodds and Yousef Edris, alongside Neil Thurston, which kept Harlow at bay.
Eventually, West were able to go on the counter attack and were rewarded with a penalty opportunity, duly slotted by centre Lewys Weaver for a narrow 3-0 lead.
A flowing move then released No.8 Jamie Williamson, who crashed his way through the middle from distance to score, Weaver adding the extras.
Harlow hit back when some quick ball was worked out wide from the set piece. The conversion closed the gap at 10-7 to the visitors.
West upped the tempo and broke through when Mahoney burst past the Harlow defenders, Weaver adding the extras.
This was quickly followed by the visitors’ third try when Jake Richardson accelerated into the line to clinically finish off a backs move, handing West a 22-7 advantage at the break.
The second half started brightly with the visitors on the attack once again. Harlow’s frustrations grew as they had a prop sin binned for 10 minutes. The visitors capitalised with a thunderous run from Mahoney that ended with him crashing over for his brace of tries, before Richardson took his second of the day to extend Wests’ lead to 36-7.
Harlow regrouped and came close to breaking Wests’ defensive line, but some outstanding defending and counter attacking work by the likes of Max Rust and Lewys Weaver saw them keep the hosts from gaining too much momentum. Finally, a fast paced attack enabled Harlow to suck some defenders in as their winger touched down in the far left corner to cut the deficit to 36-12.
West then put the foot down on the gas again, with Ryan Walker breaking the gain line on numerous occasions.
A sniping run up the right from Harrison resulted in the scrum half touching down, before Weaver completed the scoring with a mazy dart through the Harlow defence, converting his own try to end the game.
Tomorrow sees West host Old Brentwoods in their last home fixture of the season.
Tulip Man of the Match: Ryan Walker.
West’s Development squad ended their league campaign on a high with a hard fought 27-17 win over local rivals Holt.
Tulip MoM: George Gooderson.