Good morning everyone and now that we have got rid of that flashy side show in Japan we can finally get back to some proper rugby and boy what a match that is in store for the travelling Chiefs today as they venture west into Cornwall for their first competitive fixture against the Cornish All Blacks in twenty years.
The two clubs have had a massive rivalry especially during the late 1990’s with both themselves and Penzance, now known as the Cornish Pirates, battling for top spot in South West 1 and a chance of promotion to the National leagues during the 1998/99 season. It was when the Chiefs visited Launceston in that season that our current Director of Rugby and at the time Barnstaple’s captain Jeremy Chugg ended up with a broken Jaw and just like Muhammad Ali when his was broken by Ken Norton, continued to play on for a further 25 minutes. Of course it hasn’t stopped flapping since.
However the Pirates won the right to promotion that season and the two clubs again meet for the last time at Polson Bridge on October 9th 1999 to fight out a very tense, exciting and by all accounts a full bloodied encounter with Barnstaple not only leading at the break 3-10 but held that lead right up to the last seconds of the game when an injury time try rescued the game for Launceston to give them the narrowest of wins 11-10 and set them on their way to winning the South West 1 title and promotion that year.
As you can see games between these two sides can be thunderous affairs and don’t expect anything different twenty years later as the Chiefs look to make up for lost time. This season the roles are reversed as it is the visitors that are making the running and despite the loss to Ivybridge which has dropped Barnstaple to 2nd place the win is what will be important to the Chiefs not history. To do so they will need to put that loss behind them and hopefully the extra week will have sorted out the issues from that game and the Chiefs will come out of the blocks raring to get stuck into Launceston. Now I expect this to be a very different Cornish side that started the season where they were leaking points as if their defence were a fisherman’s net. The turning point came in that game against a visiting Maidenhead where Launceston scored hugely and were within a last second penalty of snatching a very hard fought battle losing by a solitary point 42-43. Since then they have won two of their last three games beating both their promotion rivals Okehampton at home, and away to Newbury Blues. So they cannot be underestimated, especially on their own turf and the Chiefs will have to be careful against any complacency going into this game.
Kyle Speare finally returns to the fold
Barnstaple will have to be patient and work towards the victory first, no rushing or trying to force the play, but be methodical. To that end the team playing today are strengthened with a few returnees. Tom Clark and Jake Childs have returned from injury and re in the starting line up while Robbie Hume is back in for Dylan Gosling who is currently on holiday. And albeit a fortnight later Kyle Spear is back and starting at 11 which is great news whilst on the bench the prop Josh Davie replaces Ashlee Crouch who has been recalled to Plymouth. Ben Hilton, the Stag and Jake Murphy are still on the physios bench and despite playing mid-week for Exeter’s academy against the Navy Haydon starts at Fly half. Here then is today’s team.
- George Snell – sponsored by Webbers Estate Agents
- James Starkey – sponsored by Slee Blackwell Solicitors
- Martinez Dromantas – sponsored by Peter Jefferies
- Adam Lloyd – sponsored by Mike Brends Groundforce
- Matt Gohl
- Nat Bayet – sponsored by the Corner House
- Winston James – sponsored by Brewer, Harding and Rowe
- Jake Childs – sponsored by Advanced Scaffolding
- Robbie Hume – sponsored by Torch Farm Vets
- Haydn Lidstone – sponsored by Rubita Construction
- Kyle Speare
- Ryan Carter – sponsored by Paiges Lane Barbers
- Will Topps – sponsored by Barricane Solutions
- Tom Clark – sponsored by K & J Electrical
- Kyran McManus – sponsored by Tea by the Taw
On the Bench
- Josh Davie – sponsored by Martin Hammett Associates Ltd.
- Brendon Darley – sponsored by DS Carpentry
- Luke Berry – Sponsored by the Mortgage Hub
Next week’s opponents, Maidenhead, are awaiting the arrival of league leaders Weston Super-Mare who are having a very good season indeed. Since their loss to Exeter Uni a month ago the Somerset team have won their last three games which included a 25-34 win at Ivybridge, so a trip to Maidenhead who were beating at home 33-36 by those same opponents shouldn’t cause them to be overly concerned and yet this season has thrown up a few surprises so nothing should be taken for granted.
There is just the one Devon derby this weekend as two teams struggling to find form meet each other at the Imperial recreation ground where Exmouth host Brixham. This result will be difficult to call as Exmouth are currently on a 3 game losing streak whilst Brixham who have struggled to get any good results finally managed a second win of the season by beating Exeter Uni 18-14 two weeks ago so flip a coin and see where it landsbut I do find it hard to see a Brixham win. Okehampton travel to Newbury Blues looking to secure their first win on the road against a side that is struggling at home having won only once this season and are currently at the foot of the table.
Exeter Uni will be looking for their fifth win of the season as they welcome Camborne hoping to maintain that 100% home record against a team that does have an away win to its name, so not a given but highly likely that the Uni boys will get this one. Finally Ivybridge will hope to fully cash in on their win at Barnstaple and make it two from two as they prepare to face a visiting Bracknell side that are yet to win on the road but will be buoyant after shutting out Exmouth on home soil last time out 12-0.
The tics are back in action and at Pottington road, so if you are not travelling west this afternoon you have no excuse to miss this one. Today they take on Tiverton Quinns looking to continue their progress. Still jubilant at their 29-55 win at Exmouth, the game gainst Ivybridge was postponed due to the pitch conditions a fortnight ago, so today’s game will be welcome relief to finally get back into action and put pressure on the Merit Table leaders.
The Athletic side for todays is
- Connor Robson
- Max Lees
- Mitch Turner – Sponsored by Union Inn
- Chris Philpot
- Domonic Robson
- Bryn Jago – Sponsored by Solar PV Tech Devon
- Matt Phillips – sponsored by Artisani Resturant
- Alfie Pennyfield – sponsored by Phil Sherborne Gas Services
- Zac Davie
- Luke Knight – Sponsored by Evans Heating & Plumbing
- Harvey Rostock – Sponsored by Just Office
- James Owen
- Ryan Lee – Sponsored by Access an Area
- Ed May
- Tom Swales – Sponsored by Howdens
On the Bench
- Joe Budd
- Billy Roberts
- Curtis May
- Ed Day
- Panda Roberts
That about wraps up another blog until the results. Good luck to both our senior teams and here’s looking forward to some serious celebrations tonight. Anyone wanting more sport there is the Barnstaple ABC Boxing show brought to you by the Barnstaple Amateur Boxing Club at the club tonight which is always a great event. Doors open at 7pm and the first fight is at 7.30.
Tickets are £10 and under 16’s are a fiver