Harrow through to final of RFU Junior Vase12 April 2012
Harrow have earned a place in the final of the RFU Junio Vase final at Twickenham on 5th May, after a resoundig 38-6 home victory over level 9 club Brockworth. Harrow dominated throughout the game and were worthy winners.
Six tries to nil, four scored by our back three tells the story of the match and the pace and skill that Harrow put into a dominant and classy performance on top of an outstanding defensive display proved the difference in the end.
There were two brilliant teams at Harrow yesterday. An outstanding display by the coaches, management, physio and players has taken this club to Twickenham for the first time in our history and an equally outstanding contribution by the all those volunteers who worked so hard to make the performance off the field the equal of everything that went on on it.
In almost a repeat of the London Final, Harrow started off like the clappers scoring a converted try within two minutes of the start of the match with Lee Huggett gathering a beautiful chip from Derek Byrne to scorch over unopposed. Converted by Tom Kelly and putting 7 points on the board for Harrow. Within 15 minutes Harrow had scored their second with full back Byrne finishing off some excellent play by the Harrow backs to score in the left hand corner.
Brockworth came roaring back and Harrow conceded a penalty near to our posts taking the score to 12-3. Then with 10 minutes remaining in the half Harrow had a line out on the Brockworth 22. A line out move devised at training on Thursday (see what happens when you do make training?) worked to perfection and hooker Shane Togher was in at the corner. The conversion was missed 17-3.
Brockworth came back again and Harrow were penalised in front our posts but this time the referee had run out of patience with Harrow's offending and Nick Argent was off to the bin for 10 minutes. Brockworth kicked the penalty taking the half time score to 17-6.
Had the sin bin and the last score of the half changed the momentum in the match? This was Brockworth's chance to really get back into the match with Harrow one man down. In the last two games that this has happened Harrow conceded two tries on each occasion. Not today though. Brockworth kicked off deep. Secured by Harrow in their 22 near to the right hand touch line, a beautiful pass by Kelly put Huggett just outside his opposite number and he was gone, out-stripping the covering defence and then as the full back came across to put him into touch, a beautiful inside swerve left him for dead and it was off to the races with four Brockworth players in pursuit. No contest. Huggett went in under the posts with the try converted by Kelly, putting Harrow comfortably in the lead 24-6.
It was an exceptional individual try, perhaps the finest I have ever seen at Grove Field, and most certainly by a Harrow player. Although a remember a try I scored against Biggleswade from about five yards out that... I digress!
Brockworth kept coming back but an outstanding defensive effort by the an extremely hardworking, aggressive and smart back row of Adam West, Nick Argent and skipper Brendan O'Sullivan together with a muscular display by midfield backs Simon Bram and Mike Smith proved the rocks upon which the hopes of Brockworth foundered. It is perhaps unfair to single out these players in what was a fantastic defensive display by the whole side but they were all absolutely immense.
There was still time for time for two more brilliant individual tries. First by Sean Pratt on the left wing after a long pass from Byrne put him outside his opposite number about 60 yards out, he then came in to beat a covering defender and then had more than enough gas to outsprint the rest of the cover to go in at the corner. Brillianty converted from the left hand touchline by Kelly 31-6.
In the last move of the match as Brockworth desperately came looking for a consolation score to take with them on their long journey back to Gloucestershire, Gosling on as a replacement for Elliott brilliantly intercepted a pass in the Brockworth midfield and ran it in from under the posts from about 75 yards taking the final score to 38-6.
The whistle blew for the end of the match and Harrow are going to Twickenham.
In the end the back three had too much class and pace for their opponents. Lee Huggett was rightly named man of the match whilst Sean Pratt suffered nothing in comparison. Derek Byrne in his first match back was simply class, showing how much we have missed him since he got injured four weeks ago. He drew all sorts of plaudits from the Middlesex dignitaries present and without the exceptional try from Huggett at the beginning of the second half would have been my man of the match.
So despite the fact that Gary Conroy (Tenerife), Paul Carroll (Tenerife) although not together I hope, and Hylan Proctor (Jamaica) together with Dave West and Sean Rynn (injured) were unavailable for this match the whole Harrow squad stood up and was counted. Special praise to Bob James for an outstanding coaching masterpiece, to skipper Brendan O'Sullivan "Fox" who overcame what was thought by season ending injury against Croydon in the divisional semi final to provide the leadership and performance the match demanded and finally to Club Skipper Matt Henry who provides the leadership and support the playing side needs.
A special word for the supporters from Brockworth. They were simply fantastic. They came to Grove Field in large numbers and they cheered and supported their players throughout the match. In what was for me perhaps the the most telling moment of the day the loudest cheers of the day were for their players when they walked through the Harrow tunnel at the end of the match. They must have been bitterly disappointed and on the day their team didn't perhaps do themselves the justice they would have wanted, but what support! They really contributed to the atmosphere of a great rugby day.
And so to the bar. They out sang us, out drank us, were sporting and magnanimous in defeat, full of good humour and good friendship. Brockworth were fantastic representatives of their village, county and division. A delight to host and a pleasure to spend time with. It is what rugby is supposed to be all about. In eighteen odd years of being responsible for the bar at the club we have never even been close to having such a big day.
Off the field I have many many people to thank. Clive Gordon who did such a splendid job on the Commemorative Programme to all those who took out adverts to support the club. Lesley Wyatt and Linda Dunleavy for the first rate buffet enjoyed by over forty people. Nick De Jong and George Georgiou for the excellent barbeque which ran all afternoon and well into the evening. Hannah Wyatt and Lisa Nurse for their work selling teas and coffees, sweets etc in the kitchen. Dave Niccol who looked after the match officials, Debbie Doyle and Jacob Reynolds who worked so hard behind the bar, Rod Nicholas who just after kick off popped behind the bar to help out for ten minutes and never left until six hours later. Annette (this is going to be expensive) Louise Coltrini and Magoo who also "popped" behind to help. Fantastic effort £3500- taken. Unbelievable.
To Terry Walker, Colm Foley, Paul Stern, Simon and Sam Reynolds for the fantastic job they did in preparing the pitch, technical areas and barriers around the pitch.
To Jimmy Dalling, Paul Beaton, Paul Gibbs and the two young colts who looked after the car parking, to Margaret Glynn and family for selling the match programme and finally to John Dietman and Henry Skidmore for their very generous donation of a barrel of Timothy Taylor Landlord that again didn't even last to kick off.
Yesterday I was very, very proud to be Chairman of this great club. Yes we are going to Twickenham, yes it will be a great pleasure to see the club flag flying at HQ whilst Harrow players in blue and white hoops play on the hallowed turf. But yesterday was about so much more. I wanted yesterday to be about our club. I asked a lot of my committee and the members of the our club and boy did they respond. So much hard work went into getting the day right, win or lose. There have been many black days in my sixteen years as Chairman, two traveller invasions, the life changing injury to young Tom Somerville, the year we dropped out the league and I genuinely wondered whether the club was finished, many frustrations, many bad decisions, many sleepless nights.
Yesterday made it all worth it. It is what I wanted and what I work for Senior, Youth and Mini Sections. One Club.
Andrew Smart, Chairman, Harrow RFC