Barnstaple Chiefs v Launceston team news

Morning everyone and as I’m writing this on Friday evening there is doubt as to whether the game will be on or not, hopefully we will know by the time you get to read this as there will be a pitch inspection at 8am so keep your fingers crossed.

So last week the Chiefs managed to put a plug in their very brief wobble to score an excellent comeback win at Bracknell last weekend thanks to our young guns who scored 21 unopposed points in the last 25 minutes of the match. With tries from Kyran McManus, Ryan Lee and Dylan Gosling, all converted by Haydn Lidstone, The Chiefs were able to overturn a 13 point deficit to win 13-21 and grab their first win on the road in February. With both Maidenhead and Weston Super-Mare losing to Devon opposition this has now given Barnstaple a 19 point lead at the top of the South West Premier.

Today the Chiefs prepare to face the Cornishman of Launceston for the first time competitively at Pottington Road since 1998. This will be a very different game than when the two teams meet at Polson Bridge in November where the Chiefs won 6-36. Far from it as Launceston have had a turbo charged second half to the season winning five of their last six matches and are a very different and much more confident proposition. This has seen them slowly but assuredly claw their way out of the bottom three to 10th place, but life there is precarious so they will surely be fired up for the win today.

As for the Chiefs this will be a fantastic chance today to put themselves even further ahead of at least one of their rivals today as WSM and Maidenhead face each other at The Recreation Ground. The biggest obstacle though for both teams will be the weather, not just how it will be during the game but ust as important how heavy the going will be underfoot. With incessant rain for the best part of three weeks the ground will be extremely heavy going and difficult underfoot, it will especially sap whatever energy both teams have and the second half of the game will be telling on their fitness. The conditions will favour the defences and both teams will find it difficult to find a way through, so a patient disciplined approach that puts huge pressure on the defence will be key to any victory today. 

Today’s squad to do just that will be missing a number of players including George Snell and Dylan Gosling who are both unavailable for this one as is Nat Bayet. Starkey is back at hooker and Jake Childs returns at Blindside. Ben Hilton is also back but starts from the bench today and Robbie Hume returns to Scrum Half in a very different line up to last Saturday. Here then is the line-up for Saturday…

  1. Martinas Dromantas – sponsored by Peter Jefferies
  2. James Starkey – sponsored by Slee Blackwell Solicitors
  3. Mitch Turner – sponsored by the Union Inn
  4. Adam Lloyd – sponsored by Mike Brends Groundforce
  5. Matt Gohl – sponsored by SPR Services
  6. Jake Childs – sponsored by Advanced Scaffolding
  7. Brendon Darley – sponsored by DS Carpentry
  8. Winston James (capt) – sponsored by Brewer, Harding and Rowe
  9. Robbie Hume – sponsored by Torch Farm Vets
  10. Haydn Lidstone – sponsored by Rubita Construction
  11. Luke Berry – sponsored by the Mortgage Hub
  12. Will Topps – Sponsored by Barricane Solutions
  13. Kyran McManus – sponsored by Tea by the Taw
  14. Dan Johnson – sponsored by Rubita Construction
  15. Ryan Lee – sponsored by Access an Area

On the Bench

  1. Josh Davie – sponsored by Martin Hammett Associates
  2. Ben Hilton – sponsored by Pearce Construction
  3. Bryn Jago – Sponsored by Solar PV Tech Devon

As mentioned earlier Weston Super-Mare and Maidenhead will be posing their final questions as to who will challenge Barnstaple for the title as they meet head to head in Somerset with both rubbing bruised egos following defeats for both of them last Saturday and with the Chiefs yet to play them both before the season ends this will be a test of character and determination for both teams.

The finalists have not yet been decided for the Devon Cup, and sorry if I mislead many of you in my last blog about it as I though we had qualified but unfortunately I wasn’t eagle eyed enough to realise that Ivybridge could still be in the reckoning as they had two games in hand over us as well. Today the Devon derby between Brixham and Exmouth will give the home side a great chance to put pressure on the other three teams because if they do claim all five points against Exmouth it closes the gap to just four  points from Barnstaple with a game in hand and makes the Chiefs match against Okehampton on March 28th that much more important.

Ivybridge travel to Bracknell looking to further cement their position in mid table against a side that has now lost their last three games while Exeter Uni travel to a Camborne team whose wheels have definitely fallen off and from being a top four team coming up to Christmas are now winless in 2020 and have dropped to 9th place just 5 points from the drop zone and so today’s game is vital for them to regain some momentum. Okehampton is at home today looking to get their first home win since January 4th against a Newbury team that can cause an upset or two when they want to although I don’t think their away form will trouble the Devon team. 

Barnstaple Athletic and Colts

Athletic are still currently leading the Devon Merit table 1 by 10 points over second placed Devonport and their 50-0 win over Cullompton last Saturday certainly helped them recover from the loss to Exmouth. However Athletics season is still in the balance as Exmouth have currently 3 games in hand over the leaders and can pip them at the post if they manage to score maximum points in all their remaining games, not a given seeing as Exmouth have currently only scored 9 bonus points from their 9 wins to date, unfortunately four of their last five games are at home so the odds are with Exmouth. Today Athletic travel to Tiverton to continue to put pressure on them and will be hoping to again grab maximum points today. Athletic are back at Pottington Road next Saturday to face Newton Abbot Kick off is 2.30pm.

As for the Colts they have made huge strides in their Devon Colts Merit Table NE and are currently eight points clear of second place Okehampton with just five games left to play. Today they have the very difficult match against a Cullompton Colts team that managed a 22-22 draw against Barnstaple here at Pottington Road earlier in the season and a win today will surely encourage them further as they prepare for three consecutive matches on the road in March. The Colts are not at Pottington Road now until March 21st when they play Tiverton.

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