Harlow 23 West Norfolk 17
It was a bad day at the office for West following a narrow away defeat at the hands of fourth placed Harlow on Saturday.
Things started to go awry on the trip over as three cars carrying players were involved in a road accident on the A10.
This resulted in captain Jamie Williamson having to pull out at the last minute, having suffered from some whiplash. As well as a few other players shaken up by the incident, the team finally arrived 30 minutes before kick-off.
Still contending with a number of injuries and unavailabilities, West began with the half back combination of Ollie Ridout and Sam Greenwood, with Mark Tilbrook coming back at full back and Dave Harrison partnering Jack Hoyles in the centres.
With the pitch conditions ok, but the weather damp, West started brightly enough with a series of quickly recycled phases. A sharp show and go from Ridout at the ruck saw him scoot between a couple of Harlow defenders to open the scoring, Harrison adding the conversion.
Harlow then took the momentum for a prolonged period of pressure, pinning West back deep in their own 22 area.
The visitors managed to hold out until a penalty allowed the hosts to close the gap at 7-3 on the 25 minute mark.
A slick flowing backs move then released winger Will Knox, who skipped through a trailing defence to score in the left corner. During this move a slight knock saw Jake Richardson give way to Elliot Otis in the backline.
Harlow hit back immediately with a try of their own after a lapse in West’s tackling let them through. Tremendous catch and drive from the lineout saw West come to within a whisker of scoring, but the half ended with the visitors 12-8 up.
Another penalty reduced Harlow’s deficit to a single point, before a controversial try was awarded to the hosts, despite it appearing that the ball was held up. To rub salt into West’s wounds, a wayward boot in the process resulted in Yousef Edris coming off with concussion. This saw Conor Tuck coming on into the pack.
Despite some quality turnovers from the likes of Freddie Playford and Rory O’Sullivan, a well worked move out wide then gave Harlow a chance to extend their lead to 23-12.
Determined to regain the advantage, West went on the front foot when Hoyles gave Harlow the slip to split open their defence to close the gap at 23-17.
A missed penalty prevented the hosts from extending their lead further with ten minutes left. West looked to up the tempo to stretch their opponents defence in the final moments of the match, but Harlow were able to close the game out.
The losing bonus point means West stay third with just three league fixtures to go.
This weekend sees West host Swaffham in the Junior Norfolk Cup. Kick-off is set for 3pm.
Adrian Flux MoM: Rory O’Sullivan.
l West Norfolk women’s rugby team have their first home game on Sunday at Gatehouse Lane, 2pm KO.
l West Norfolk player John Nwaneri has been selected for the Eastern Counties under 20’s squad.
Eastern Counties will be fighting for RFU National U20 Championship survival when they take on Surrey at Thetford on Sunday in their final group match (2pm).
Counties, who beat Kent 36-25 but then lost 38-5 to Hertfordshire, must beat winless Surrey to keep alive their hopes of a second place finish in the group and a quarter-final place. Counties are level on points with Kent, but have an inferior points difference, and one point ahead of Surrey.
Kent face unbeaten group winners Herts on Sunday.