After a week off for the Chiefs to recover from their wounds it’s back to National league rugby and another week on the road unfortunately this time it’s a much longer trek than Somerset as Barnstaple have to travel a tad further just a mere 120 miles and over 2 hours extra journey time for this one as they travel to the heart of Hertfordshire to face Old Albanians. For those not able or wishing to make the 4 hour and 224 mile journey we were hoping to have the Colts play Tavistock, unfortunately due to unavailability of many of Barnstaple Colts squad they have had to cancel that game. This then leaves the headline act to the Bucc’s to fulfil as they welcome Ilfracombe to Pottington Road and this will be every bit as entertaining as when we watched them play Chard back in September.
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Despite the lack of Chiefs rugby at Pottington Road we haven’t been without any rugby at over the last fortnight, quite the contrary in fact as the last two weeks has given those supporters who have managed to get to the club some gorgeous rugby with Barnstaple Athletic beating Exmouth 2nd XV 67-0 in a really entertaining if somewhat one-sided affair which was slightly surprising as I was hoping that Exmouth would give the Tic’s some real competition but unfortunately the quality of our rugby and speed of what is a young Athletic team with many of them from the Colts of 2019/20 season feeling their way into senior rugby and acquitting themselves very well indeed. So much so that last week Okehampton called off and the Tic’s have another postponed game to await. This still leaves them in second place just 5 points off the lead with a game in hand but especially in their current form I’m sure they would have preferred the game.
Yet we were not disappointed last week as the Colts took centre stage and played some really good flowing rugby against Exeter Saracens which saw them win 22-14. Just like the Tic’s there was some expansive rugby where they looked to run the ball whenever they got the chance and defended really well especially in the first half where 2 consecutive yellows meant that the Colts played for 20 minutes down to 14 men but only allowed 7 points past them despite the constant pressure they faced just to return those points almost immediately when they were back to 15 men before the break with a lovely try out wide. The second half showed a more patient and dominant half by Barnstaple scoring a further two tries that earned them a very well deserved victory.
So while the Tic’s and Colts have a rest this weekend it’s the Chiefs turn as they travel north of the Watford Gap to take on Old Albanians a team we have not faced before at this level. When the Chiefs were promoted at the end of the 2015/16 season Old Albanians were themselves promoted to National 1 and spent two seasons at those dizzying heights before returning to National 2 south and I expect they will be hungry to get back up there judging by their results so far this season which sees them in fifth place with six wins to their name, but it’s their loss to Rochford Hundred which is puzzling losing at home 21-22, a fluke or is there a chink in their armour, having beaten the likes of Clifton in Bristol by a point and only losing at Redruth by a point would show that this chink will be very hard to find and this is a very good team that knows how to win as they showed beating Ding’s Crusaders 50-27. Somehow the Chiefs have got to find that weakness that Rochford did or more importantly tidy up on those errors which we seem to be getting punished by quite substantially at the moment and then find the elusive chink.
Here then is the team to face Old Albanians with a number of changes after their weeks rest. in the forwards Ben Hilton, Flynn Elworthy make welcome returns while Warren Goss gets his chance on the bench and at the backs very much the same with just Josh Pilkington starting at scrum and Sam Roberts returning to cover full back. This is how they line up.
sponsored by Peter Jeffery
2. Nat Bayet
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3. Mitch Turner
sponsored by Wrey Arms
sponsored by Queen’s Theatre and Landmark Theatre
5. Ben Hilton
sponsored by KAS Crane Hire
6. George Snell
sponsored by Paiges Lane Barbers
7. Flynn Elworthy
sponsored by Advanced Scaffolding
Sponsored by Brewer, Harding and Rowe
Sponsored by Ocean Shade, Canopies & Awnings
10. Kyran McManus
Sponsored by Tea by the Taw
Sponsored by Access an Area
12. Johny Carter
Sponsored by Fields farm shop and Butchery
13. Jake Murphy
Sponsored by The Pride
Sponsored by Barricane Solutions
15. Sam Roberts
Sponsored by My Favourite cottages
16. Warren Goss
Sponsored by Workit with Curcuit
17. Alfie May
Sponsored by DS Carpentry
18. Chris philpots
19. Dan Johnson
Sponsored by Tom Johnson Decortators.
20. Luke Berry
Sponsored by Ian Baker
Next weekend we welcome another newcomer to Pottington Road, this time from the Midlands as Leicester Lions visit the West Country. Today they will be welcoming Ding’s Crusaders who will find this trip a big challenge as Leicester Lions have a brilliant home record only losing to Clifton in week 2 and beating both Esher and Worthing at their place, a tough place to get a win from indeed. The big game of the weekend has got to be Clifton v Guernsey with both having lost last time out it will be interesting if Guernsey’s great away performances will be too much for the home side. Redruth will be looking to continue to pile the pressure on league leaders Worthing after their win in Guernsey as they welcome a Bury St. Edmunds side which has yet to register a win on the road this season.
Esher travel to Westcliff looking to capitalise on that cracking 32-12 win against Clifton which pushed them into third place to further put pressure on the front two although I expect all three top teams will win this weekend as Worthing travel to Henley still smarting after their loss at home to Hinckley last weekend.
Elsewhere Barnes welcome Rochford Hundred to Barn Elms hoping to grab only their second home win of the season, the first was against Westcliff and Canterbury have to difficult task of travelling to an improving Hinckley side who grabbed that impressive win at Henley last Saturday.
That’s it for another week remember the Chiefs are at home next week to face Leicester Lions and kick off is now 2pm so make sure your alarms are set early it’s going to be a corker.