I’m not sure what to make about my feelings towards yesterday’s game, gutted I suppose is the best way I can describe them as I feel Barnstaple have left some points out there on the field, it feels like one that got away. There seemed to be an air of optimism surrounding the ground from the nearly 600 supporters who attended as the Chiefs were led out by U12’s player Max Woosey who as you all know has slept in a tent for a year raising over half a million pounds for North Devon Hospice.
As the whistle went for the start of the first half Barnstaple got stuck right into it from the start hoping to unsettle the visitors early but it was Guernsey who having weathered the storm struck first in the 10th minute from a penalty to take an early lead. From then on Barnstaple made little impression except for a thundering run by Martinas who after breaking a couple of tackles found himself in open space and made the best of it before being tackled, but even then the Chiefs were unable to take advantage as Guernsey cleaned up. It wasn’t until the 36th minute that the Chiefs exerted any significant pressure following the Raiders second converted penalty and earned themselves their own penalty to half the lead, then from the kick off Barnstaple rampaged through the middle of the Guernsey defence only to be held up on the line and that was it for the first half, a half I felt there were possible a few to many penalties just as the Chiefs were getting some traction and some inaccuracies with their passing.
It was these inaccuracies that also lead to the first try of the game just 5 minutes into the second half when Guernsey intercepted a pass to have an easy run in to extend their lead 3-13. That lead was again extended to 3-20 as Guernsey crossed the line for another. Around this point the Chiefs did start to push the visitors harder and on their own lineout drove the maul over for Flynn Elworthy’s fourth try of the season. Then from the kick off the Chiefs did something to put a massive smile on the supporters face and drove the maul a good 40 plus meter from their own half into Guernsey’s half and it did look threateningly likely the Chiefs were going to score another pretty quickly, but a lapse in concentration after giving up a penalty in the 22 saw Guernsey take a quick tap penalty with little opposition to stop them and run the ball down for their third try and looking comfortable for the win at 10-27. The Chiefs never gave up though despite this setback and mounted another much more focused period of play against the raiders which led to man of the match Martinas Dromantas not only breaking tackles but dragging a couple of defenders with him to touch down for the Chiefs second and a chance to rescue at least a losing bonus point with just a couple of minutes on the clock. From the restart gathered the ball and mounted that charge but Guernsey this time shut up shop to deny Barnstaple any further points winning the game 17-27.
It did feel at times that the Chiefs were forcing some of the play with passes going astray too often at critical moments. It wasn’t that we played badly but that with a little more patience and some better precision, not looking for the killer pass so early, there could have been more points out there for the Chiefs. When they got the ball into the Raiders 22 they did cause them problems it’s just they never got it in there enough. Now it is easy to say this sat on the terraces much harder in practice and Guernsey are a strong outfit and gaps where difficult to find in their defence, however it’s that ‘but if only feeling’ I have that makes this loss a bit hard to swallow for myself.
Next weekend the Chiefs are off to Bury St. Edmunds who have had a quiet start to their season but have now won both their home fixtures and so this will be another tough day for the Chiefs. Yesterday though Bury lost at Ding’s giving the home side their first home win of the season 33-27 and some much needed confidence after losing their last two at home.
A strange day yesterday as both the front runners lost. Esher on the road at Leicester, who are looking more impressive with each game and must be a top 6 favourite, went down 27-21, while Clifton lost at Henley 28-27 in what must have been a titanic battle.
Redruth who were in the midlands thumped Hinckley 7-41 just as a warning shot across the bows of the other title pretenders. Also at the bottom of the table Westcliff again lost this time at Barnes 46-12 and Rochford Hundred got themselves a much needed first win of the season in an extremely tight game beating visitors Canterbury 20-19 to push them up three places. Finally Worthing recovered from their loss at Canterbury last week with a good win at 4th place Old Albanians 13-22.
This then leaves us with a very different picture at the top as Worthing now lead while Guernsey’s win keeps them fifth. At the bottom Barnstaple now slip the 14th after Rochford’s first win moves them just above.
That wraps it up for another weekend for the Chiefs who are next back at Pottington Road to face a Canterbury side that have wobbled on the road having only won their one and only home fixture so far. Kick off for this one is 2.30pm so don’t be late.
No Bucc’s this week but a massive task for the Tic’s as they headed to a buoyant Ivybridge who have won both their opening games. The final score was Ivybridge 25-24 Barnstaple with tries from Connor Swann (two), Ben Jago and Euan Kent, two of which were converted by Tyler Gordon-oke. A close game which they almost pinched. It was a really good defensive shift and the backs were electric with the ball in hand while the forwards battled well against a more experienced pack.
No news yet on the Colts game so I’ll bring that result to you in next week’s blog.
Next weekend both Athletic and Colts are at home both kicking off at 2.30pm. Athletic take on Devonport Services while the Colts face Okehampton. Have a great week and see you all Saturday
To view more Photos from the game click this link Barnstaple v Guernsey photos