London 3NE: Norwich 15, Harlow 10
Norwich moved to within four points of second placed Harlow after deservedly beating the Essex side with a late try at Beeston Hyrne.
The early pressure in London 3NE's game of the day came from the visitors who were quicker out of the blocks. From a Norwich knock on the visitors were awarded a scrum on the home 22 from which player coach Rhys Powell made a half break to put away winger Vernon Cox, who appeared to knock the ball forward as he went for the touchdown. Even the Harlow touch judge thought so. However the referee awarded the try and fly-half Danny Smith added the conversion.
This seemed to wake Norwich up and they immediately upped the pace and were soon encamped inside the visitors' 22. However Harlow's defence held out and after Norwich had chosen to kick a couple of penalties into the corner hoping to score from the ensuing lineouts it was Jay O'Brien who reduced the arrears with a simple penalty goal.
Minutes later Norwich scored a great try. It started from a lineout just inside the Harlow half when the ball was taken on by Josh Ives, playing at hooker, with great support from fellow front rower Tom Williams. The ball was spread wide with the backs benefitting from Joe Srokowski's quick pass and O'Brien went over for an excellent try. He could not convert his own score so at half-time Norwich had a one point lead. However just before the break the referee gave Harlow No 7 Mark Bowering a yellow card for persistent infringing.
Norwich started the second half under pressure and it was only superb defence that kept the visitors out. However after seven minutes the hosts did concede a penalty under their own posts which from the touchline looked as though it should have gone the other way. Smith had no problem converting it to give Harlow back the lead.
Again this seemed to be the catalyst for Norwich to raise their game. They had a series of lineouts and despite several efforts at catching and driving the visitors seemed able to repel Norwich's attacks. After 20 minutes flanker Matt Cartwright and No 8 Ross Adnitt were replaced by Paul Micklethwaite and Dan Grohland. With George Pope having been replaced at half-time Norwich began to miss his weight in the tight, where Harlow appeared to be getting the upper hand.
As full-time loomed Norwich launched a fine attack and prop Williams looked as though he was going to score, only to be hauled down just short of the line. However second row Gareth Leake was on hand to crash over and O'Brien added the conversion.