Ill discipline costs Town
By Howard Crompton
Ill discipline cost Stevenage dear as they scored four tries to Harrow’s two but conceded twelve points from needless penalties, which made all the difference.
Stevenage only conceded ten penalties in the match, four of which came in the first ten minutes. Harrow kicked two of these to put them six points in front with Stevenage barely getting a touch of the ball. It was not only the nature of the penalties conceded but also the fact that six of them were within kickable distance of the posts.
In fact, Harrow had extended their lead to 13 – 0 with the first try of the match in the 13th minute before Stevenage started to play and got themselves back into the contest.
Harrow’s opener came from a Stevenage lost line-out and some poor tackling as Harrow No. 8, Abel Leaman charged through to score.
That was the signal for Town to start playing and they responded from their first attack of the match. Jordan Ross was instrumental in taking the ball on and from the resulting ruck, the ball was moved quickly from left to right and Ian Crompton slipped through the gap in the Harrow defence to score.
Play was pretty even for the remainder of the half and Town really needed a second score before half time to ensure they stayed in the match. This duly came with an excellent try from Michael Wilson from the last play of the half. Stevenage were moving the ball well and George Turvey broke the gain line and slipped the ball to Wilson to finish the move. From a shaky start, Stevenage had brought themselves back to a deficit of just three points going into the interval.
The second half followed the same pattern as the first with Harrow putting early points on the board and Stevenage coming back strongly.
The home side extended their lead in the 49th minute with a third penalty by full back William Argent following a tackle offence. They followed that up two minutes later with their second try of the afternoon, when Sam Basnett latched on to a loose ball in the Stevenage midfield to run seventy yards to score in the left hand corner. Argent kicked an excellent conversion from the touch line to extend the Harrow lead to 23 – 10.
Town had to reorganise when both half backs, James Crabb and Jesse Tipene succumbed to injury. Chris McGrath came on at scrum half and played well with Wilson moving to fly half from full back. It was Wilson, who in the 58th minute took on a quick penalty and when the ball was recycled back, Crompton went over for his second try of the afternoon and his fifth against Harrow in two matches this season. Gareth Lewis added the conversion and Stevenage found themselves only six points in arrears at 23 – 17.
Town really needed the next score, but it was Harrow who put further daylight between the teams with Argent’s fourth penalty of the afternoon. This time the penalty was for chat aimed at the referee.
Despite the set back, Stevenage showed determination to take the match to the wire and they responded with a fourth and bonus try in the 67th minute. This was another example of good inter play and support as the move involved Adam Amos, Bradley Cook, Lewis and Phil Pearson before Cook turned up again to drive over for the score. This wrapped up a fine performance by the ever-improving Cook.
With the score 26 – 22, Town continued to press for the winning try but their efforts were thwarted and they had to settle for both a try and a losing bonus point.
Next week is the final league game of the season against Old Streetonians, who are one point behind Town in fourth place in the league. Stevenage will need to win or draw to ensure a third place finish for the third consecutive year.
Stevenage Town Team: Michael Wilson, George Turvey, Ian Crompton, Gareth Lewis, Jordan Ross, James Crabb (Chris McGrath 41 mins), Jesse Tipene (Dave Anthony 49 mins), Jack Zbucki, Darren Outram, Bradley Cook (Ben Hodge 52 mins), Conor Mitchell (Bradley Cook 64 mins), Adam Amos, Alex Banna, Wes Moore, Phil Pearson
Subs not used: None
Tries: Ian Crompton (2)
Conversions: Gareth Lewis