Harlow founder on Reeds Defence




The biggest crowd of the season came down to Whiteley Village on Saturday to watch their heroes battle their way into the Final of the Papa Johns Cup. Town sides can be relied upon to field a big set of aggressive forwards, Harlow did not disappoint in that regard, and it was Reeds huge defensive response to the physical intensity that Harlow brought to the game that secured a place in the Final for them. Reeds were up the slope in the first half but the visitors just couldn’t break down Reeds defence, and it was Reeds on the breakout from deep who were awarded a couple of tricky penalties which Pete Cole duly dispatched to give them 6 – 0 lead. It was Ross Stalley the big Harlow inside centre who finally got Harlow on to the score sheet following a prolonged period of occupation in Reeds red zone that saw them create a four on three opportunity, as he crashed through from five metres out, just by the flag, but the conversion attempt drifted wide. Unusually in Reeds experience, referee James Richardson was having a good game and during that first half, although Reeds were not having the best of the territory, when they unleashed the pace of their back division, Harlow looked vulnerable, Reeds attacked from ten metres out, a double stacked move and quick hands put Pete Cole in space and he strolled over the line for an unconverted try. Just before the break, the Harlow fly half drilled a penalty shot to earn a five-metre lineout, Jack Elston the experienced second row hit the defensive wall and collected the second try of the day. A simple conversion attempt drifted wide leaving Reeds with a one-point lead but with the slope in their favour.

There was just a suggestion that the big Harlow pack were finding that work up the slope a real challenge, Lewis Jones Reeds big second row forward was delivering some big hits in the midfield that needed cover from the Harlow defence and gave some space out wide for Reeds quick men. Reeds exchanged penalties with Harlow but it was a blistering pace attack, initiated by full back Cole that had Marcus Clark in full flight down the touchline from well within Reeds half, with the try finished off by Jack Jesty, that put Reeds firmly in the box seat. Pete Cole collected the extras for that try and moment later there was a siege gun penalty shot from way out that put Reeds into an eleven-point lead at 21 – 10. As the second half went on Reeds patience in defence was a thing to behold with Harlow throwing up their big runners only for them to be repulsed on the gain line every time and it was this sterling defensive effort that allowed them to capitalise on Harlow’s errors. The try initiated by Billy Maddock was the try of the day, his shuddering tackle on his opposite number released the ball, it bounced kindly and Maddock was in for a seven pointer after a 40-meter dash under the sticks. In that last quarter, Jack Jesty, Reeds fly half found Nick Brown the winger up in support for another seven-pointer. Jack Jesty was once again in action as he collected Reeds final try of the day after he pounced on a loose ball once again after a tackle resulted in a spilt ball, with Jesty winning the race for the try line and another seven points. Late on with a minute to go, Harlow added their third try of the day but well after the result was beyond doubt.

Man of the Match Award went to flanker Will Relfe for his outstanding defensive performance against a determined town side coupled with fly half Jack Jesty or his all-round attacking efforts.

Man of the Match -Wilf Relfe (L) & Jack Jesty (R)

Man of the Match -Wilf Relfe (L) & Jack Jesty (R)

Reeds are now building a strong Cup pedigree with 3 National finals appearances in 4 playing seasons  excluding Covid, and it is hoped that their experience at the business end of the season will see them secure further honours. 

Team: Lennon Day / Rhys Day / Harry Ring / Herbie Finn (Capt) /L ewis Jones / Chuggs Wallis / Will Relfe / Michael Wasko / Ollie Palmer / Jack Jesty / Marcus Clark / Billy Maddock /Josh Clark (Vice capt) / Matt Stevenson / Pete Cole / Jakob Howe / Zach Smith / Charles Collyer / Lewis Falworth / Joe Moriarty / Nick Brown

The Final will take place at Dings Crusaders in Bristol on 1 May @ 17.00

GS May 4th 2024