Welcome back to a rare and slightly late match report on what has been a much better week for Barnstaple rugby with 2 wins and a close bonus point loss on the road for the Chiefs. The highlight of course was the Bucc’s 79-0 demolition of Exeter Saracens 2ndXV at Pottington Road, unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to watch it so can’t let you know who the try scorers were, but a great start to the season for them in their first Devon Merit Table 1 NE fixture and I’m sure I’ll have ample opportunity to shoot their games in the future.
We begin the next two reports with a quick round up of the Chiefs who did themselves a lot of good in Shropshire by grabbing a losing bonus point in a tightly contested game losing to Newport (salop) 25-18 and were at one point leading with just 10 minute to go. Again, a slow start by the Chiefs allowed Newport to score right from the start with just 2 minutes on the clock, however pressure from Barnstaple resulted in a penalty try to take the lead going into the second quarter of the game 5-7. The lead then changed hands twice as Ryan Smale grabbed his first try of the season to retake the lead as the teams went in at half time with the Chiefs leading 10-12.
The second half saw the Chiefs extend that lead within the first minute with a Jake Murphy penalty only for Newport to tie the scores 10 minutes later with their third try. Another Jake penalty gave the Chiefs the lead mid-way through the half but continuous pressure by Newport and a technical yellow for Barnstaple saw the home side score two tries in the last six minutes to win the game.
So another loss but by the looks of it a decent effort by the Chiefs to earn that bonus point and with 5 points from the first two games on the road that isn’t a bad effort indeed. They will need to sharpen their wits though for the home game against Luctonians this coming Saturday as the visitors pushed Leicester Lions close on home soil last weekend eventually losing 37-43, scoring 5 tries in the process and currently have one win on the road against Bournville. So, a big game coming to Pottington Road this weekend and kick off is 2.30pm. It is also Ladies Day and there are still places available so if you fancy a great day out including a two-course meal, free entry to the game and a social with the players afterwards email Verity White at firstname.lastname@example.org. Its £30 per person and that includes free entry to the game.
Finally, an important first home win for Athletic after what was a very frustrating first half. Following a botched kick off by the Tic’s which did not go the required 10 yards they did redeem themselves by getting one against the head from the resulting scrum and through a number of phases saw Ben Jago drive the ball over the try line to open up the scoring in under 5 minutes. Then for the majority of the first half we saw Exeter Saracens virtually camped in Barnstaple’s half and despite some excellent defensive work including turning the ball over on several occasions, the Tic’s continued to give possession up too easily. Their line was finally broken after 20 minutes as the visitors scored twice before the 30-minute mark to take the lead 7-14. Athletic then did start to get some traction on the game before the half ended and following a number of phases, Troy Willis who took a lovely line collected a pass that put him through several tacklers to score a very good try under the posts to go in at half time scores even.
The second half saw Barnstaple come out with more intent and Athletic played much better in that half cutting down the number of errors they committed and during a really good purple patch of their play scored twice in four minutes with Jonathon Braund-Bond scoring first with a lovely run through the middle of the visitors defence and Troy Willis collecting his second of the game just after. Still playing well they came under increasing pressure from Exeter Saracens who finally broke the Tics defence right at the end of the game to earn themselves a losing bonus point.
So, a well-earned Bonus point in for Athletic and a very encouraging performance that saw them galvanise for the second half and take the game by the scruff of the neck. It’s a trip to Honiton this weekend to face Honiton’s first team who despite being a place below the Tic’s have scored a lot of tries having beaten Ivybridge at home last weekend 50-27, so a tough match indeed for Athletic. This will be the last we see of Barnstaple Athletic for some time as they are on the road until 26th November where they will be renewing their rivalry against Devonport Services 2nd XV, until them I wish them all the success the road trips will grant.
That’s about it for now folks keep watching this space for more updates and I’ll see you Saturday for Barnstaple Chiefs against Luctonians kick off 2.30pm. Meanwhile enjoy a selection of last weekends photos from Athletic’s game you find the full set at Athletic v Exeter Saracens