Harrow 20 Newent 27
NEWENT are going back to Twickenham after they summoned all their spirit and resilience to win the toughest of encounters in north London.
After last year’s wonderful Junior Vase 58-29 win over Baildon, they will play Yarnbury from Yorkshire in the Senior Vase final on May 4.
They beat Stewarts and Lloyds 21-11 in the other semi-final.
At the first scrum of the game the Newent pack were penalised as their front row popped up under pressure from the Harrow shunt and full-back Christian Witney kicked the goal from just inside the 10-metre line to give the hosts an early lead.
Newent were back on level terms from the restart, when a threatening break from scrum-half James Dean was halted by a high tackle and Ross Webb stepped up to land the goal.
Newent were quickly back on the attack when George Phelps hacked through a loose ball to win a lineout five metres from the Harrow line.
The home side kept the Newent pack at bay through several phases before the ball was spun wide and Brett Gardner popped up off his wing to finish to the left of the posts.
Ross Webb’s conversion gave Newent a 10-3 lead after 15 minutes.
Harrow responded to this reverse with a period of intense pressure. Newent full-back Richard Merrett made a try-saving tackle on his opposite number Witney before Harrow fly-half Derek Byrne knocked the ball forward as he dived over the line. Newent’s relief was shortlived, as Harrow forced them to lose control of the ball at the resultant scrum and blindside Adam West pounced to claim the touchdown. Witney’s conversion attempt hit the post, keeping Newent in the lead at 10-8.
Newent enjoyed the best of the remainder of the half but were unable to take advantage of several chances to increase their lead.
Fears that the visitors might live to regret those missed chances were soon allayed as they started the second half in top gear.
Within three minutes they had another score on the board after outside centre Barney Goatley broke a tackle and scorched through the narrowest of gaps to score beneath the posts. Ross Webb converted.
Again Harrow roared back, Sean Pratt finishing smartly after Robert Baragwanath had punched a hole in the Newent defence. Witney’s conversion brought the score back to 17-15.
Newent’s response was immediate, the reliable Webb kicking another three-pointer after Harrow were penalised at a ruck 30 metres out. As the game went into its final quarter more indiscipline from the home side gave Webb another kick at goal.
The ball bounced back into play off an upright but Newent claimed possession and left wing Dominic Matthews forced his way over. Webb’s conversion took Newent’s lead to 27-15.
Once again Harrow bounced back immediately, number eight Christopher West completing a relentless series of drives from their powerful pack. The conversion was missed but a scoreline of 27-20 ensured that the last 15 minutes of the game were played in the tensest of atmospheres.
Newent’s magnificent defence resisted more pressure but it was the visitors who finished the game on the attack to secure the hardest fought of victories.
NEWENT: R Merrett, B Gardner, B Goatley, R Webb, D Matthews, W Mansfiled, J Dean, M Morris, L Williams, C Steward, T Veale (Capt.), L Marriott, F Nottingham, G Phelps, J Duffin. Reps: C Gellert, L Warren. Reps not used: D Bubb-Sacklyn, T Freeman, J Meek, J Parker, G Tovey.
HARROW: C Witney, M Smith, R Owens, H Proctor, S Pratt, D Byrne, G Conroy, R Baragwanath, S Togher, S Whitcombe, D West (Capt.), J Kinnell, A West, R Franklin, C West.
SCORERS: Newent – Tries: B Gardner, B Goatley, D Matthews. Cons: R Webb (3). Pens: R Webb (2).
Harrow – Tries: A West, S Pratt,
C West. Con: C Witney. Pen: C Witney.