Cooperians relish another key clash
PUBLISHED: 14:30 15 January 2016
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Head coach Reed hopes team can further boost title dreams with win over Harlow
Old Cooperians head coach Pat Reed knows his team face another vital game in their bid to win the London Three North East title.
A week on from beating second-placed West Norfolk 12-8, Coopers host Harlow who are currently fourth.
Having suffered relegation last season, the aim for Coopers this year has been to achieve promotion and Reed is aware victory against Harlow will set them up well to achieve that.
“We’re in a good position and if we can get a bonus-point win over Harlow, I think we have a chance of the title,” he said.
“We had a difficult start to the season when we were away more often that not, but we’ve got six home games before the end of the season.
“Because we’ve got home advantage more, we have to get more bonus point wins because I think it may come down to that to decide the title.”
When the sides met earlier this season, Coops suffered their only away defeat of the season as they lost 43-26 at Harlow in October.
That also happened to be the team’s last loss in the league to date, with Coopers having embarked on an incredible run of eight straight wins since.
Reed is confident they can stretch that to nine, noting that Coopers are much improved since their previous clash with Harlow.
“We’re a different side from when we last played them because we were missing a lot of players. That team was a fraction of what we have now,” he added.
“That’s what you get across the London Leagues, though, you never know who will line up each week because it depends on availability.
“We know how Harlow play having come up against them often in the past few years. They have a fantastic driving maul, so we’ll work on that.”
Coopers will be buoyed by their victory at West Norfolk last weekend as they prepare to host Harlow at Barking’s Gale Street ground (2pm).
Having fallen behind early on, they were able to inflict a first home defeat on their title rivals thanks to tries from George Wilkins and Joe Bilton.
Prop Samuel John made his first start since joining from Barking and impressed in the pack to take man of the match honours.
Reed was delighted with the display of the entire Coopers team, but also thanked West Norfolk for their hospitality.
“It was a good game and West Norfolk are a good group of lads who played some good rugby,” he added.
“We knew the challenge because we’d seen they score a lot of points at home.
“To get the win was good. They didn’t look like scoring after their try and it was a mammoth effort from us.”