Thurston II 10 - 32 H&D II
Top of the table clash with second place Thurston and with both teams having perfect home records making the host the favourites on the day.
Harwich had a tough lead up to the fixture and it was all change with regular scrum half Mark Bow and Ciaran Johnson both out with injuries leaving back row Josh Edwards to take up station at 9, Props Mark Sanders-Crook, James Mann and Rob Kemp were also missing and it was Left to Lee Durrant to play his first game at prop and whilst given a hard time on the day put in a man of the match performance as he presents enable contested scrum for the duration of the game, Also missing in action were regulars wing Lewis Kerley four man try scorer last week and Centre Guy Williams.
Captain Oly Bray and his band of helper and players to their credit managed to field a strong side despite the headache of a number of late call off and call ups which brought back row forward Jamal Schut and walking wounded Sam Male into the squad on the Saturday morning.
Despite the forced changes it was a fired up Harwich squad who were definitely up for the challenge as they started as the aggressors as they gained territorial advantage they crated the gap for stand-off Craig Wilson to pick his line and score under the post just five minutes into the game, Wilson also converted.
Both teams were very evenly matched as they contested in the middle of the park but is was the physicality of the visitors which was nudging the advantage their way, unfortunately they were unable to convert into points and after a string on penalties Thurston were able to ship the ball wide to reduce the points deficit with and unconverted try.
Harwich quickly bounced back when they were award a penalty within kicking distance which Sam Male converted, this was soon cancelled out.
With Thurston player dropping like flies they were grateful for their large contingent on the bench, no more so then the replacement number 8 who was the stand out player on the day and proved to be the undoing of Harwich efforts with his physical presents, game awareness and soft ball handling skills, creating a try just before half time to take a narrow lead, breaking from the back of the scrum on the half way line catching the Harwich defence on the hop to give the support runner an easy run in as he offloaded for a converted try.
Whilst the visitors still believe the game was within grasp at the turnaround they were put on the back foot and forced to chase the game as Thurston extended the lead with a carbon copy try created by their No.8 from close range.
Harwich battled to the end and made sure every point was hard earnt but with a small squad and fatigue setting they were fighting a losing battle and were unable to stop the hosts extending the lead with a further penalty kick and forth try for the bonus point.
To both teams credit the game produced a great contest worthy of both clubs standings in the league table and on the day the best team won with a flattering margin and a score which cruelly didn’t reflect Harwich contribution and effort.
Thurston now leapfrog their opponent to sit top of the league and Harwich will be looking over their shoulder as third place Halstead with a game in hand sit only five points behind which will make for a mouth water fixture when the two clubs meet for the final game of the season on the 25th March at Halstead.
Team: O Bray, G Rayner, L Durrant, M Cowley, M Smith, S Pitham, S Mills Snr, R Miller, J Edwards, C Wilson, I Flook, S Male, Dan Johnston, J Eldridge, C Heeney, J Schut, J Skargen
This week Harwich are at Home to Essex University, KO 2.00