Battle against Buckby is won to maintain the promotion push
Market Harborough returned to action with a 32-20 victory over Long Buckby at Northampton Road.
The Midlands Two East (South) game was a physical test from the start with Long Buckby winning the territorial battle and taking a 3-0 lead through a penalty.
They remained on the attack but the Harborough backs conjured up some magic with Harvey Slade making ground before releasing Laurence Joel with a long
He made 30 metres before chipping ahead and reaching the ball first to touch down for a try that was converted by Josh Purnell.
Unfortunately Joel then had to leave the field with an injury but Harborough upped their game with Fin Clarke storming up the wing.
When he was held, a long pass from Purnell found Slade who put Ed Sumpter clear.
He drew the defence before passing to Henry Davis who ran in to score.
A 12-3 lead looked good but some sloppy defence saw Buckby score a try of their own that, with the conversion, bought them within two points.
Worse was to come as Sumpter was yellow carded for dissent but Harborough battled on.
Good work by Lee Butler saw them awarded a penalty that Purnell slotted to secure a 15-10 half-time lead.
The second half saw early pressure from the visitors and eventually they crossed the line wide out to draw level – a fair reflection of an even contest.
But when Sumpter returned – and was joined by Harborough’s old warhorse, Michael Woodford – Harborough began to take more control.
The next move was started by Clarke and taken on first by Jack Digby, then Ethan Godefroy before quick ball found Woodford who off-loaded to Sumpter who ran in to score for a 20-15 lead.
This became 25-15 shortly after as smart interplay between Sumpter and Davis resulted in the latter running in for his second try of the game and a bonus point for Harborough.
But Buckby were proving to be very tough opponents and came back to score a try to make it 25-20.
But Harborough sealed things with the try of the game.
It came from loose play which saw a pass to nowhere.
However, man-of-the-match Fin Clarke was on hand to reach the ball first and he made 40 metres from inside his own half, breaking a number of tackles before finding Sumpter with an exquisite offload.
He was able to run around the defence and touch down under the posts for the try with Purnell converting to secure a 32-20 victory for Harborough.
Head coach Richard Bowden said: “That tough encounter was just what the squad needed before the next game.
“We are away to Luton who are currently just a point behind Harborough in third place.”