Norwich 29, Harlow 25
Norwich moved joint top of London 3NE on Saturday after a hard-fought victory at Beeston Hyrne.
The hosts should have buried this game with 20 minutes to go but right up to the final whistle the result could have gone either way.
Both sides seemed to have great difficulty in dealing with their opponents' restarts and it was Norwich who conceded possession from the kick-off. They gave away a penalty with Harlow kicking to the corner and rumbling over from the resulting line-out with prop David Rose getting the touchdown. Andrew Dobson landed the conversion to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.
Harlow coughed up possession from the restart and Norwich put their opponents under pressure but seemed to be having difficulty in securing quality ball from their own line-out. After 11 minutes a lovely break by Jonny Wheater in the centre was carried on by scrum-half JC Brown who put Jay O'Brien away. The right wing finished off superbly to score half way out. Rob Micklethwaite added the conversion to put Norwich on level terms.
Then Lawrence Austin, playing at flanker, finished off a great move to score in the corner. Again Micklethwaite added the conversion to put Norwich 14-7 in front.
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Any thoughts that Norwich would begin to dominate were quickly dispelled when Harlow centre James Fricker waltzed through some weak Norwich tackling to score near the posts which gave Dobson a simple conversion. Again Norwich came straight back and scored with Jordi Walker going over in the corner. Micklethwaite this time could not add the conversion but Norwich had the lead back 19-14. Not for long though as shortly before half-time Dobson added a penalty and then went over in the left hand corner. He could not add the conversion, making the score at the interval 19-22 in the visitors' favour.
Norwich regained the lead five minutes into the second half with a well taken try from Rob Micklethwaite who turned and twisted to get over the line and then converted his own try magnificently from the touchline. However Harlow were not finished as moments later Dobson kicked a penalty from not far short of the halfway line to reduce the arrears. Micklethwaite then added another penalty which with 25 minutes left was to be the final score of the game.
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Norwich dominated the rest of the game but could not add to their tally despite a Harlow yellow card. The fact that they did not score again was down to stout defence and a propensity to give away penalties at crucial times.
Fortunately for Norwich their defence was solid but nonetheless they were relieved when the final whistle went on a thoroughly entertaining game with Norwich edging a bonus point win. As a result they joined South Woodham Ferrers, who edged a tight game at Wisbech, at the top of the table.