Evening everyone and WOW what a great day yesterday, you couldn’t have asked for a better start to Pottington road’s first home game of league rugby for such a long time. The weather was with us with a lovely warm sunny day and the pitch looked absolutely gorgeous. It was great seeing so many turn up and listening to the Barum roar again, a bit of normality finally crept its way into our lives. Oh yeah and the Chiefs deservedly won this one 35-17 with a lot of enjoyable rugby.
Right from the start the Chiefs showed their intent as Will Topps challenged for and won the ball from the kick off and within the 1st minute Jake Murphy, who was faultless with his kicking in the first half, scored Barnstaple’s first points converting the penalty to put them up 3-0. Westcliff immediately turn the heat up and began to mount some pressure as they pressed the Chiefs in their own half try to find gaps in Barnstaple’s line and several minutes later Barnstaple gave up a penalty to allow Westcliff to tie the game 3-3.
Jake Murphy who kicked 20 of his 25 points for the day
Again Westcliff had several minutes of sustained pressure however this time the Chiefs held the line and when they had the chance went on the offence themselves making big gains through Westcliff’s defence with some lovely free flowing rugby and quick ball from the base of the ruck to pile on the pressure which as the half wore on resulted in a further five penalties that Jake converted giving the Chiefs an 18-3 lead at half time.
Two things of note from the first half, firstly there were a lot of turnovers by Westcliff where the ball was stolen either in the tackle or at the breakdown and whether that was the Chiefs just not being better in protecting the ball or it is something Westcliff are particularly good at, whichever there was some very promising positions that the Chiefs found themselves in that a little more care with the ball would have benefited in at least one try, which was rectified and profited from in the second half. The second was how well the front row did. There was a bit of concern amongst the supporters after last weekends game on how well the Chiefs would cope at scrum time, well we didn’t need to worry, the starting three of Dominic Robson, George Snell and Alfie May put a massive shift and despite the large weight of the Westcliff front our scrum pretty solid row it does show that technique and skill will win it for you every day. Of course there was also the pace of rugby we were playing which did bring an air of confidence to the Pottington faithful that today was going to be our day and Pottington Road also saw it’s first successful 50-22 kick as Will Topps skilfully booted the ball from our own half to earn an attacking lineout for the chiefs which unfortunately we failed to take advantage from on that occasion.
The second half started well for Barnstaple who’s ball retention improved significantly and with it a lot more quick ball saw the Chiefs playing rugby across the width of the pitch stretching Westcliff’s defensive line with some fast paced rugby that saw Jake Murphy with a one on one that he easily glided past to score the Chiefs first try within the first ten minutes of the half. By now the new scrum half Josh Pilkington was stretching the Westcliff line more and more spreading the play left and right to stretch the defensive line which finally opened up for Flynn Elworthy to score the Chiefs second try.
Will Topps on his way to his first try of the season to secure the win for the Chiefs
By now you’d think we would be cursing and the Chiefs were playing the better more entertaining rugby, but this is Barnstaple and we never like to have our supporters complacent and in true Barnstaple manner the Chiefs allowed Westcliff to get a toe back into the game causing the usual anxiety amongst the Barum crowd. Following a penalty which saw Westcliff kick into our 22 and then from the lineout shove over for their first try. Then four minutes later a lapse around the halfway line their full back sprinted through the large gap and on to the corner for their second, both of which were converted. So still good lead at 28-17 but with such quick tries it could have been a game changing period for the last 7 or 8 minutes that might have seen Westcliff grab our coat tails, but not today as they chiefs roared back again spreading the play to see another two on one situation, this time Will Topps profiting to score his first of the season and with just four minute to go. Then one finally chance to grab a bonus point as Kyran McManus seeing the gap in Westcliff’s defence burst through it to find himself with just one to beat but unfortunately lost his footing at the critical moment. Final whistle 35-17 the Chiefs.
A really pleasing enjoyable half not only because of the win but how the Chiefs won it with some exciting expansive rugby. But above all what impressed me and this was echoed by many others watching the game is how well the Chiefs come back from that Clifton defeat to play and win in the manner in which they did today showed huge character right through the team.
It wasn’t just a winning day for the chiefs as Barnstaple Athletic also played their first game of the season away to Crediton, shutting out the home side 0-31 whilst the Colts also scored 31 points on the road beating Tavistock 5-31. The Colts are having a breather now until October 2nd but you can watch Athletic at Pottington Road next Saturday as they take on Brixham Crusaders kick off is again 2.30pm. See you there.
So how did everyone else get on in National 2 South. Well the Chiefs will have their work cut out next week when they Visit Esher in the Depths of Surrey following Esher win at Dings with avery impressive 19-45 win. Reduth further enhanced their title credentials with a 10-24 win at Barnes whilst Clifton only managed a 24-31 win in the midlands against Leicester Lions.
Old Albanians are going to prove to be a difficult team this season as they were victorious again 29-21 whilst Worthing celebrated their centenary weekend with a 29-21 win over Bury St. Edmunds also denying them a bonus point. Finally Rochford Hundred had a difficult time as Guernsey again showed they learnt a lot from their first spell at this level winning at Rochford 24-42 and will be a difficult team to beat this season I expect.
Well that’s it from a very happy me as the Barnstaple trio make three wins out of three. Thank you to everyone the players, coaches and volunteers that made it a great day out, catch up with everyone next week.