BATTLING IPSWICH SEE OFF THE RAMS IN RELEGATION BATTLE.
By Alex Jacobs
IPSWICH RFC …56 v Harlow RFC…41
The Black & Golds made it three consecutive wins on Saturday in LONDON 2NE in what was a very high scoring match at Humber Doucy Lane. IPSWICH followed up what was probably their best performance of the season away to relegated Basildon, with a rather different sort of performance against the RAMS – but - dug deep when it mattered to eke out a well-deserved victory.
Now entering the most interesting part of the season & with possibly six sides still battling to avoid relegation, this was a must win match for both sides and it was the Rams -11th place before kick-off - that started the stronger, scoring two early tries to establish a 0-12 lead after a quarter of an hour.
Ipswich - 8th in the table at kick off - looked strangely sluggish and uncomfortable and were guilty of falling off tackles as a powerful Harlow unit took the game to their hosts playing some direct rugby.
Ipswich came back strongly and with tries from centre Chris Kolapo-Ajala and wing Tawanda Kandemwa to level at 12-12 after 25 minutes.
Young Luke Uru was exposed on at least three occasions on the Ipswich right wing – it was just as well his team mate Kandemwa was having a field day on the other side of the pitch scoring three first half tries. What pace!!!
Harlow too were guilty of poor defence at times and Kandemwa, Mann and Kolapo-Ajala looked dangerous on every occasion that they were presented with the ball.
The Harlow pack were heavier than Ipswich but, the home forwards battled at line-out and scrummage to achieve a parity that was well-deserved – in spite of a couple of errant throws from Sam Goodwin. Veteran tight head prop Jim Clark more prominent than usual in the loose had a fine game.
Big Chris Kolapo-Ajala scored another try to make it five for Ipswich before the break as the Ipswich lads continued to make amends for their many errors – having to fight hard just to stay in the game.
With very little between the two sides, at half time the score was 27-24 with Ipswich starting to establish a slight dominance in midfield - although given the frequent defensive lapses and many handling errors a tough second half lay ahead for our lads.
Aki Downing was now limping and Elliott Siddle was off injured so Ipswich were starting to creak a little.
Fortunately, the second period saw a couple of quick fire tries for the home side.
One from Jake Steward who reacted quickly at a ruck on the Harlow goal line to plunge over for a short-range try and, another solo effort from Kolapo-Ajala picking up at a ruck, whilst Harlow waited for the refs whistle (following their own ‘knock-on’). A great advantage played by the referee and the powerful Ipswich centre ran 45 metres as he stormed down the club-house touchline in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd to score his third try - wide in the corner.
The Rams continued to attack and got themselves back in to contention with a couple of tries of their own as the flakey home defence once again became apparent. However the chunky Rams seemed to be tiring and, bickering amongst themselves as their error count started to rise.
Harlow seemed unable to tackle Tim Mann or Kolapo-Ajala, and so these two were (along with hat-trick hero Kandemwa) the pick of the IPSWICH side. Mann seems to add a certain direction to Ipswich when positioned at ‘10’.
Yet another powerful drive from Mann and Kolapo-Ajala took Ipswich up into the Harlow ‘22’, and the burly Sam Goodwin escaped a desperate Harlow tackle wide on the Ipswich right to score in the top corner and Ipswich at last had some breathing space as the game entered the final ten minutes of play. A further Kolapo-Ajala try made certain (?) and with Alan Barker chipping over an easy penalty to allow a fifteen point lead, the lads were galvanised and played with more confidence defending resolutely to hold out the frustrated Rams. Despite achieving their highest score of the season and scoring seven tries, Harlow were destined to finish on the losing side and now look likely candidates for the drop and are reliant on other results to stay up.
Ipswich - with another 9 tries today - have now scored 113 points in two matches and head up to the seaside at Southwold next week for yet another ‘derby’ with just two games left. Our hosts next week, slipped up at Cantabrigians and so now sit below Ipswich in the table & so a hum-dinger of a game in prospect next week.
Final score: IPSWICH RFC…56 v Harlow RFC…41