Ipswich 38 - 19 Harlow
Saturday 7th April 2018
A fine, sunny day and another large crowd were able to enjoy a deserved Ipswich victory against West Essex side Harlow at Humber Doucy Lane. This was a ‘must win’ game for the Black & Golds who, prior to kick off, were sitting uncomfortably in 8th place in the London 2 league – whilst their opponents were safely positioned in 5th place.
In this, the business end of the season, many of the lower sides in the league have been picking up valuable points in their efforts to stay in the league. Recent away defeats at Chelmsford and Woodford have hurt this young Ipswich side.
It was Charlie Dower who initially lifted Ipswich spirits with an early charge for the line – the winger being held up 5 metres short with only two minutes on the clock. Fly-half Button then missed a long-range penalty five minutes later. Harlow then kicked a penalty in to the Ipswich left corner and, a catch & drive from the resulting line-out saw hooker Mallia score to give the Rams the first score (0-5).
Ipswich responded as Carlton Littlechild popped the ball in to the hands of fellow centre Ben Grimwood deep inside the Harlow ‘22’, with Grimwood racing over the line only to have his effort ruled out following an adjudged forward pass.
Two minutes later and following another Harlow indiscretion, Ipswich moved the ball to their left and speedster Jermaine Watson marked his return to the side with a simple try converted by Button (7-5).
As the first quarter closed, big tight-head prop Jim Clark rumbled forward down the middle of the park and popped the ball to hooker George Ainge. Ainge had just enough strength to reach the line and score the second Ipswich try – also converted by Button (14-5).
Ipswich tried to keep the game moving but several minor injuries amongst the red & green ranks repeatedly slowed the game down thus frustrating the home side.
Harlow winger Scott Whitby was then released by his midfield and he managed to get through Watson and beat full-back Tawanda Kandemwa to the line to score in the corner for the visitors. A well struck conversion by Danny Smith brought the Rams back in to contention (14-12).
Young Ipswich full back Kandemwa then dropped the Harlow centre Alfie Clark just 5 metres out – saving a certain try as Harlow piled on the pressure. Ipswich could not clear their lines with Button failing to get the ball off the field. Centre Whitby and winger Clark were outstanding for Harlow as the Black & Golds had to dig deep to hold the visitors out. On 40 minutes, having been awarded a penalty in front of their own posts, an Ipswich player foolishly pushed his opposite number to the ground in an effort to recover the ball – after the whistle. Referee Smith quickly reversed his decision. Ipswich were fortunate that Smith missed his easy kick from just 15 metres out.
The second half started in very much the same style as the first with Ipswich on the attack. Loose-head Jake Goodwin darted through the Harlow defence and found scrum half Jake Steward in support – the nippy number 9 raced clear to score another try for Ipswich which was again converted (21-12). Harlow were now starting to look quite ragged and Charlie Woodington was yellow carded for throwing the ball away after another Ipswich penalty had been awarded. Capitalising immediately, Charlie Dower then scored a fine fourth try to give Ipswich their much-needed bonus point (26-12).
Harlow were tiring and continued to attempt to slow the game down but Ipswich were now buzzing around the field and were unlucky not to score a fifth try on 55 minutes with the ball hitting the deck after a 3v1 had been created.
Into the final quarter and with Fraser Goldie and Josh Hayward on for Mike Graham and Steward, it was not long before the fifth try was eventually scored. Hayward moved around Dower from a close scrum and picked up a lovely weighted pass from the winger to score with what was an early touch of the ball. A fine conversion from Button and Ipswich had surely secured their win (33-12).
Harlow’s James Clark then scored a try for the Rams in the closing minutes (33-19) but it was Ipswich that closed things out with a fine Grimwood try on 80 minutes (38-19).
Ipswich now 6th in the League will travel to 11th placed Epping Upper Clapton for their final league match of the season next week.