Despite the delays and motorway madness that left the Chiefs more than a little under prepared for this game they started well and looked to attack Worthing with ball in hand right from the off, but the home side were great on capitalising on the Chiefs mistakes as their first try showed and they had really good pace outside so that after 25 minutes they were already up by four tries and it wasn’t looking good for the Chiefs. As they have done all season so far Barnstaple continued to play their rugby with ball in hand but their Achilles heal in this game so far was the lineout ball which was too often over thrown.
After their 4th try the Chiefs finally looked to press the Worthing defence and whilst the lineouts were not working the scrum looked rock solid up to this point and the Chiefs benefitted from that enormously, so much so that with a 5 metre scrum to Worthing following a knock on by the attacking chiefs, Barnstaple got one against the head and several defensive penalties later by Worthing Bryn Jago touched the ball down from a pick and go 1 meter out for the Chiefs first try. The half ended with Worthing pressure who scored with a lovely cross field kick collected by their winger and the inside ball put their centre in the clear to leave the game at half time 29-7
The Chiefs started the second half the better earning a penalty from the kick-off just outside their 22 which Will Topps put into the Worthing half just shy of their 22. Another scrappy lineout which for once went Barnstaple’s way and they were on the attack which eventually resulted in a number of pick and go’s for Matt Gohl to drive the ball over for the Chiefs second try of the game. With a second conversion by Jake Murphy there was just a ray of hope which was soon dashed as Worthing composed themselves and attacked immediately scoring twice in 5 minutes. The first was again their inside ball coupled with the pace they have close to the line and the second came from another botched lineout given Worthing back possession which they capitalised on.
The Chiefs were not done yet and all of a sudden the lineout came good, first they pinched a Worthing lineout which saw Robbie Hume, who I thought had a really good game, find a gap to race through the middle into the Worthing half then two more Barnstaple lineouts both executed perfectly saw Dan Lee go over for the Chiefs third. Unfortunately that was all the Chiefs were able to score as they pressed hard to get that fourth and with it a bonus point, they of course left gaps which Worthing’s pace exploited for a further two tries to leave the league leaders the victors 53-21.
So how to sum up the Chiefs game, well first the negatives and there is really only 1 negative and that was the lineout which did not function at all, when it did which improved in the second half then Barnstaple had a platform to attack from as we saw with their third try, but this rarely happened and more often than not possession was handed over to Worthing. On the positive side though we played some really good rugby at times and pressed Worthing well, but better than that our scrum was rock solid getting one against the head and causing Worthing to consistently infringe at the scrum, even when Martinaz came off after the 24th minute his replacement Alfie May looked just as solid.
But Worthing are not league leaders for nothing, they have some real pace outside and do enjoy a lot of success with that inside ball. So I think having watched the game, which you can view for yourselves here Worthing v Barnstaple, that Barnstaple given their less than ideal pre game preparations played a good game of rugby beaten by a very good team. I think for the Chiefs it just isn’t quite gelling yet and this happens sometimes, how many teams in any sport are playing well but just can’t seem to get the results or the scores, I think this is what is happening with Barnstaple at the moment, it’s just not clicking yet because I don’t see a lot wrong with their game other than a few glaring mistakes and of course that lineout which needs some addressing. Or am i being a little bit too optimistic.
In the rest of the league there again are some inconsistent results and surprises with next week’s opponents Rochford Hundred winning their third game out of four by beating Ding’s crusaders 22-17. They are going to be a much tougher proposition than was first thought at the beginning of the season as they again show they can get results at this level and Barnstaple are going to have a battle on their hands on Saturday.
Redruth continue their impressive record of being the only unbeaten club as they travelled to Essex to beat Westcliff 7-57, followed closely by Guernsey who have now their 6th successive win beating Henley in a really close game 17-16.
These two and the leaders Worthing have really secured the top three spots so far as Clifton again failed for the third time in four games, this time at home as Old Albanians beat them in another close game 32-33. In another 1 point game Esher finally got the points after failing to win in their last three beating Hinckley 34-33. Canterbury on the back of their win at Barnstaple scored another victory beating Leicester Lions 30-27 whilst Bury St. Edmunds scored big against Barnes winning 63-25.
Athletic and Colts.
Barnstaple Athletic continue to impress with another outstanding performance at home. Facing a visiting Paignton who have had victories over Cullompton and Newton Abbot and lost by just a single point to Exmouth, Athletic knew they had to be up for it and boy were they starting the game at a blistering pace and never slowed throughout the game winning 73-8 scoring 11 tries on the way.
Tries by Tom Swales (2), Ross Swales , Harvey Rostock , Llewyn Jago (2), Tyler Gordon-Oke (2), Ben Jago, Warren Goss and Ed Harrison with Tyler Gordon-Oke converting 9 of the 11 tries secured what was an excellent display of rugby. The whole team worked well together and there was plenty of communicating amongst the players. With Ivybridge dropping a bonus point in their win that leaves the Tic’s just five points behind with a game in hand.
As I mentioned the whole team had a great game but of interest to Chiefs head coach is several of the former colts that are playing their first season of senior rugby. Ben Jago at hooker had a ferocious game and has some pace with his size which he showed in his try. Warren Goss seemed everywhere and has a really high work rate to add to his skilful play while Ben’s brother Llewyn Jago has electric pace on the wing. Tyler Gordon-Oke also excelled showing his range of skills and that rugby brain he has which he uses to good effect to keep the opposition guessing what he intends to do with the ball and the Swales brothers keep scoring for fun at the moment.
There will be much sterner test coming their way this season but it is nice to know we have a large pool of young talent waiting there with the Tic’s just requiring a bit more playing experience and maybe next season be ready when the Chiefs need them. For now coach Bead Drew should be well pleased at how his side is developing. The first of those bigger tests will be on Saturday 30th October when they meet Exmouth here at Pottington Road which will be a massive game and one which will show how these former colts are really handling senior rugby. Kick-off is 2.30 and I really hope all of you can make it, it was a big crowd yesterday for Athletics’ game, I reckon close to if not above 100 so if we can give them that sort of atmosphere again I’m sure they’ll reward us with some quality rugby and the win.
The Colts had a day out at West Buckland School to play three games against some strong opposition and whilst they lost all three with a depleted squad the experience should pay dividends for the coming season. The Colts next game is at Crediton before three consecutive games at home beginning on October 30th against Exeter Athletic Colts which will be a massive test and a really good game. Kick-off is 2.30pm.
For the full set of photos here Barnstaple Athletic v Paignton 2nd XV