Wanstead leave it late to record 20-19 victory over Harlow

Wanstead left it late to beat Harlow 20-19 away from home in an enthralling contest last Saturday.

The home side sit one place off the bottom of the league table after recording only one win this season.

But the Herons knew it was going to be a tough encounter if last last season's home defeat (3-5) and away draw (22-22) were anything to go by.

To say Wanstead were slow out of the blocks is a bit of an understatement.

For the first part of the game they were almost pedestrian and had to endure a sustained period of pressure from a home team determined to right the wrongs of previous weeks.

Captain Chris Jones had elected to play against the slope in the first half and was almost made to regret the decision as Harlow used their large commanding players to dominate proceedings in the early exchanges.

Only some excellent defence keept the home side out or the result could really have been in doubt.

This is not to say that Harlow had it all their own way in the first half. Wanstead were beginning to find their feet and looked threatening on occasions, the ball moving slickly through the hands, for the likes of Dave Moran and Isaac Ampofo to make incisive cuts into the Harlow defensive line.

Harlow made the first dents in the static scoreboard though, first with a penalty after a sustained period of pressure and then with about ten minutes left in the half the Harlow scrum half, Rhys Powell, managed to sneak over in the corner for a score that went unconverted.

It was 8-0 to the home team at half time and the Herons hadn't even left second gear.

The second half though was a different story. From the restart Wanstead decided to wake up and began to exert some pressure.

The screw was turned and the scrummage began to work, Harlow were being pushed backwards at an alarming rate at almost every set piece.

However Harlow somehow managed to sneak in another score, a well worked try scored out on the wing by Josh Drake, again conversion missed but a 13-0 lead. But now it was the Heron's time.

The first Wanstead score was a penalty, knocked over by hooker Phil Rogers. 13-3 with Wanstead going downhill and some great link up play between the forwards and backs looked to have got Wanstead their first try but some stout defending by the home team kept them out.

This was until Steve Brockman put boot to ball with a kick over the top. with the Wanstead chasers bearing down on him the covering Harlow defender was forced to put the ball down over his line for a five metre scrum.

The resulting set piece saw the big Harlow pack shoved back over their own line for a pushover try eventually put down by the returning Lee Amman.

Phil Rogers slipped the conversion over to make the score 13-10.

A penalty for not releasing the ball gave Harlow another shot at goal which their player duly converted to extend the lead to 16-10, however this was short lived.

From the kick off Wanstead were again powering into Harlow territory. Winger Nick Andrews using his pace to get down the wing deep in the Harlow half.

Again there was an infringement by the home side and the scrum was called for again. Similar distance from the line, exactly the same outcome.

Another pushover try and conversion from Rogers, 17-16 and a one point game, this time in the Herons favour.

Harlow then showed how dogged and tenacious a team they are and battled their way to the Wanstead half once again.

The clock was ticking down and they were after yet another score to take them into the lead once again.

A ruck was set up on the Wanstead 22 metre line, let the Harlow fly half get into a deep position for a long range drop goal attempt which he took with great aplomb, 19-17 Harlow and they thought the game was won, with barely five minutes left to play.

The Herons however were in no mood to concede defeat this time and showed as much grit and determination as they have showed all season to go straight back on the attack.

A smooth passage of play with backs and forwards again linking well in the middle of the park was adjudged to have been stopped illegally by the home side and Wanstead had a chance to shoot at goal for the victory.

Phil Rogers stepped up and, just as with the previous three successful kicks, drilled the ball low and hard through the uprights to earn Wanstead a 20-19 victory.

A hard fought game against a team who should be better placed in the league judging by this match, but a win that keeps the Herons dream of promotion alive.

The team now sit third in London Three North East, three points off leaders Norwich who had a reasonably comfortable win against Old Brentwoods and two points behind South Woodham Ferrers, who edged out early season leaders Upminster in a close encounter.

Next up for Wanstead is South Woodham.

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