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Stowmarket still in contention for a London 2 North East play-off spot

Stowmarket remain in the hunt for a play-off spot in their first season in London 2 North East heading into the final weekend.

John Holton’s charges recorded a hard-fought 18-17 win away at Harlow on Saturday, which kept their chances of a second-place finish alive, but reduced Harlow’s chances of survival from relegation.

Stowmarket made a quick start by scoring two tries, through James Simpson and Dan Garrard, inside the first five minutes.

Dan Garrard (8219262)
Dan Garrard (8219262)

With an early 10-0 lead, the visitors continued to dominate most of the opening 20 minutes, but squandered a couple of chances to move further in front.

Harlow scored next with their first attack, following good forward work, before Stowmarket replied with a penalty from Casha Nijhawan.

The Essex hosts then scored a second try to cut Stowmarket’s lead to just a point at the break.

Harlow started the second half brightly, dominating possession for long periods, and eventually they scored a fine counter-attack try to take the lead for the first time.

The home side’s lead would not last for long, though, as Leif Bjorsen scored in the corner to edge Stowmarket back in front at 18-17.

In the final 15 minutes, Harlow missed a penalty kick for goal and, despite being under pressure, the visitors held on for the victory.

The gap between Stowmarket, in third, and Romford & Gidea Park, who occupy the sole play-off spot in second, had been just a point going into the penultimate weekend of the campaign.

But Stowmarket’s play-off rivals extended their narrow advantage to two points, as they defeated Cantabrigian 27-24 on their home turf to pick up a bonus-point win.

Holton’s men are now relying on Romford losing their final game, at home to fourth-placed Saffron Walden, this weekend.

If Romford lose, and Stowmarket can see off local rivals Southwold at Chilton Fields tomorrow (3pm), the London 2 North East new boys could then be just one game away from another promotion.

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