With The Owls trying to secure 2nd place in their division and a large home crowd expectations were running high, despite some challenging weather conditions, with a strong wind blowing across the field the game was very much error free.
The game ebbed and flowed for the first 10 minutes and neither side looked as though they could break the deadlock. However a strong Harwich scrum brought the first try after the ball was moved quickly through the backs to Lillie Barnett running a great line to dive over in the corner and score, with the strong wind making life difficult the conversion attempt missed to give The Owls a 5-0 lead.
St Francis were playing at a level which their league position did not reflect and scored the next try in the game.
The Owls pack turned the ball over from a St Francis scrum, but as the ball was being moved to the Harwich side an unfortunate boot returned the ball to St Francis, from the resultant melee quick ball out to their centre Maya Le Rossignol, who cut the line at speed past the Owls defence to touch down under the posts, Sian Lewis kicked the conversion for a 5-7 lead to the visitors.
St Francis extended their lead shortly afterwards after a couple of penalties moved the ball close to the Harwich line, from 7m out The Owls defence failed to close the gap on a tap penalty and Anita Morgan crashed over for the try. The conversion failed but left The Owls trailing 5-12.
Harwich upped their game and the ball was being quickly moved by scrum half Lizzy Flatt, making her first appearance in 18 months, linking up well with fly half Becki Hare, runs by Sian Smith, Sam Wilmott, Beth Lemessurier and Camille Briot, moved Harwich down the field. From recycled ball Owls captain Sophia Tricker stepped through two would be tacklers and a great turn of speed saw her clear the chasing defenders and score under the posts, she converted her own try and at half time the game was all square 12-12.
The second half was close with both sides negating the other with ferocious tackling, Sam Wimott and Robin Williams leading the way. Harwich moved towards the St Francis line with Di Wood, Sian Smith and Sam Wilmott all pushing the ball close and at one point the ball seemed to cross the line but with no one being able to ground it somehow St Francis pushed The Owls back and managed to clear their line. Injuries slowed the game down with both sides glad of some breaks in play.
A St Francis attack was foiled by a double tackle from Poppy Flatt and Sophia Tricker who bundled the winger into touch, from the resultant line-out Owls hooker Chloe Hawkins, who’s throwing was exceptional considering the wind conditions hit Sophia Tricker, quick ball and well retained phase play saw passes through the forwards from Di Wood and Sam Wilmott to release flanker Robin Williams to break free of the last defender and sprint clear 40m to score under the posts, Sophia Tricker kicked the conversion to put The Owls up 19-12 and this proved to be the final score in a well contested battle.
Harwich travel to Romford on 17th March to close out the year.
Reports by Tim Flatt