Harlow 24 v 38 Stanford le Hope
Stanford U17s travelled up to North Essex to play Division one side Harlow in the first round of the Essex Youth Cup. Expectations were high as the Stanford lads had had an excellent start to the season and were looking for revenge after losing to Harlow in the last game of last season.
The sun was hot and it was going to be a tough physical game. Harlow had a dream start with a converted try in their first visit to the Stanford half. Stanford battled their way up field and a great break from Harry Bettis at outside centre almost penetrated the line but for a strong tackle. Bettis offloaded the ball to winger Nathan Dawson who darted over the line to score.
Harlow came out strong again and put together some of their best rugby to the delight of the home crowd and scored two more tries to make the score at half time Harlow 19 Stanford 5.
A few positional changes were made at half time and Jared Gounden moved from scrum half to his favoured centre role, Bettis moving out to the wing and Sean Seeley joining the fray at Scrum half. The Stanford side worked their way towards the opposition try line and Captain Jack Egar barged his way through the defenders to score near the posts. Adam Ward converted the try with ease. A superb positional kick to the corner was badly fielded and led to a lineout near the Harlow try line. A clean take from 2nd row James Wade was dropped neatly into Ndabe Chagoboza’s hands and he drove through the gap and reached for the line to score. Ward kicked his second conversion of the day from out wide and the Stanford side was level at 19 points apiece.
Harlow responded with some good pressure but the Stanford defence was solid. The pressure continued and Stanford gave away a penalty but the Harlow kicker missed and Stanford hung on. After a few more failed attempts Harlow finally scored again and took the lead 24 – 19. Fitness was beginning to play a part and the bigger, Harlow forwards were becoming less and less effective as the pace of the game and the mid day sun took its toll. Adam Dawson made an instant impact at prop and made good ground whenever he had the ball. A determined attack from the visitors saw vice skipper and full back Michael Kite cross the line off the blind side of a ruck.
Further pressure led to Sean Seeley making a good break before passing to centre Luke Dawson who scored out wide. Now in the last few minutes of the game Stanford had a 7 point lead and had to defend again. A good clearance by Adam Ward made touch and the lineout was turned over through some excellent counter rucking. Another lineout came and Kieran Peaceful cleaned up the loose ball and made a perfect flat pass to Michael Kite running at full tilt. Kite flew through the middle of the field and scored an emphatic try to end Harlow’s hopes of saving the game. Ward converted the easy kick and Stanford had won by the score of 38 – 24.
The men of the match were Michael Kite (backs) and Arri Pike (forwards). Stanford’s coaches and parents were jubilant at this excellent performance especially because the lads overcame a 14 point deficit at half time to win but a clear 12 points.
Stanford U17s start their league campaign next week with a home game against Westcliff B. 11am KO