H&D 30 - Bancroft 24
This win sees Harwich in second place in the league with one match remaining but three points behind leaders Writtle Wanderers.
H&D RUFC welcomed Bancroft RUFC to Low Road on Saturday in a return fixture that promised to be tough and uncompromising. Neither team disappointed in this return match, which would probably decide who would finish second to Writtle in the Essex League Shield.
Harwich started the game brightly, full of running but as expected they were confronted by a resolute solid defence. The home team kept the ball securely and posed lots of problems for a well organised Bancroft’s side. It took Harwich several minutes of nonstop pressure to break down their visitors. The forwards, with Harley Hema and Simon Palmer being prominent, made inroads into Bancroft's territory. The ball was spun wide giving winger Adam Palmer the opportunity to use his outstanding speed. The flying winger out paced the defenders, diving in at the corner to score the opening try. Blustery conditions made the kickers job almost impossible, giving Damien Smith a very difficult conversion, which he missed. Harwich 5 - Bancroft 0.
Showing their mettle Bancroft took the game to their hosts, using good possession to force their way into the Harwich 22 metre area. Looking after the ball the away team piled on the pressure, giving themselves an opportunity to level the score, which they took. The conversion was missed leaving the score at 5 - 5. From the kick off Harwich, receiving the ball, went on the attack. Good interplay between the backs and forwards saw them make their way into the Bancroft 22 metre area. Running onto the ball second row forward Kyran Green made his way over the line for a more straight forward try than the bizarre try he scored last week at Dagenham. Smith, blaming the conditions, missed the conversion.
The referee made an impact on the game in the run up to half time, brandishing yellow cards to two Bancroft players, one for a high tackle, the other for preventing a try scoring opportunity illegally by being offside. Harwich took full advantage with last week's hat trick hero, Owen Cowley, making his way over the try line, having picked a suitable hole in the defensive line. Smith struggled with the failed conversion attempt.
With time slipping away in the first half Harwich forced their way into a good attacking position again, with the away team giving away a penalty in front of the posts, Smith was able to stroke over the bar for the three points. Half time Harwich & Dovercourt 18 - Bancroft 5.
Harwich continued the second half as they had finished the first, with strong running rugby, causing Bancroft all sorts of problems. Soon on the attack Harwich had a flowing backs move deep into the Bancroft half before full back Lewis Williams inserted himself into the attack, giving a sublime pass out to Adam Palmer, giving the winger an opportunity to score his second try of the match. Smith kept trying to improve the try but again the wind won.
This was a good period for the home side and they were again knocking on the door for points. Hard working, galloping, wing forward George Brunning ran a superb line, so much so that when the ball was popped to him, he strolled over the line under the posts untouched. Smith was smiling as he lined up the conversion which he kicked easily. Harwich 30 - Bancroft 5.However Bancroft being the team they are came roaring back at their hosts, playing the game in the Harwich 22 metre area, they forced their way over the line. The conversion was missed.
The referee again became a prominent figure in the game by brandishing a yellow card, giving wing forward and kicker Damien Smith, ten minutes in the sin bin for an innocuous off side at a ruck well outside the Harwich 22 metre area.. This was shortly followed by stand off Sean Mills, Jnr, also receiving a yellow card, effectively ending his participation in the game. Bancroft needed no second invitation and dominated the final exchanges in an exciting and enthralling game. They were able to get over the line through their excellent forwards, the conversion was good, making the score Harwich 30 - Bancroft 17. From the kick off Bancroft kept the ball and made good progress up the field into the Harwich red zone. The move ended with the ball going through their backs, finding the gaps in the Harwich defence and scoring. The conversion was good, Harwich 30 - Bancroft 24. The referee indicated that following the restart the next stoppage would end the game. Harwich put the ball straight into touch, giving their visitors one last chance from a scrum in centre field. Fortunately for the home team the ball was knocked on and the game finished with a hard fought victory against solid strong opposition. Harwich & Dovercourt 30 - Bancroft 24.
This win sees Harwich in second place in the league with one match remaining but three points behind leaders Writtle Wanderers. Writtle would have to lose and Harwich win with a bonus point for anything to change. Harwich travel to Stanford-le-Hope on Saturday for an away fixture against Pegasus Palmerians to end the season.
Report by Jim Hayter