So after all the excitement of last weekend we have another round of games for you to enjoy as we reach the halfway stage of the season. At Pottington road this afternoon a real treat as Athletic are back to again show everyone what they are about as they take on Exmouth Quinns to regain some momentum after their closely fought loss at Ivybridge last Saturday. Kick off is 2pm as is the Colts game against Brixham Colts in the Devon merit Table shield competition. On the road is the Chiefs who travel to the West Midlands to face a rested Stourbridge whose game against Leicester Lions was postponed last weekend as they couldn’t raise a team. The Bucc’s are off to Exmouth, in a change of venue, to face the Exmouth Nomads following their only defeat of the season so far against Exeter Engineers a fortnight ago.
Just a brief update on what’s happening at the club over the next couple of weeks. The Christmas Bags to Ukraine appeal is fully underway now and the final date for collection of the bags is this Sunday 11th, full details are in last week’s blog post here https://www.barnstaplerugby.co.uk/2022/12/the-mighty-barum-blog-for-3rd-december/
The bags will then be transported to Ukraine on Friday 16th so they arrive in time for Christmas. In addition to that the club is proposing to have a half time bucket collection at the Chiefs v Hornets match on the 17th December of which half of the funds raised will be going to the Ukrainian appeal, so make sure you bring your spare change with you i don’t want to hear “i only hace a card nonsense”.
Boxing day is also just around the corner so get prepared as Barnstaple Chiefs welcome their Bideford counterparts to Pottington Road this year and it is sure to be a packed afternoon. More details next weekend.
What a game that was last Saturday and a great performance by the Chiefs, their best rugby so far this season, especially in the first half where they earned their try bonus point scoring four tries in the half. So, as many of who have read my blogs in the past couple of weeks, I have been critical of the number of penalties the Chiefs were giving away over the previous four games, in particular the number of yellows, and how that was affecting their efforts in applying pressure on opponents, well the players certainly responded in the most positive way possible to that criticism, which is even more encouraging to me than the win itself, by taking the game by the scruff of the neck right from the start and dominating the first 25 minutes. In particular with the driving maul which saw two converted tries during that purple patch amid a flurry of Loughborough penalties. Loughborough did get some purchase in the game and came back into it as the two teams traded a try each with Jon Kelly grabbing his brace on the 30 minute mark to give the Chiefs a 19-7 lead. The first half was finished off in fine fashion as the backs ran the ball fluidly through the hands to put Johny Carter through to end the half leading 26-14.
The second half, as you might expect from a well-established National league side, Loughborough came at the Chiefs hard and fast, scoring within 10 minutes as they now played the ball wider getting their quick footed No.14 more into the game and Barnstaple’s excellent defensive line was only broken once more under this pressure with the visitors tying the game at 26-26. As the half went on though the Chiefs gained more traction and several great breaks almost resulted in the Chiefs grabbing a winning lead and eventually Matt Gohl’s super extended arms got the ball down on the whitewash with just 10 minutes to go. This was countered with a try two minutes later and at 33-33 the game seemed to be heading for a tie. It’s at this point I think that the Chiefs really showed their spirit and nerve not to mention their fitness, as not only did they look the more likely to win, but as the clock went into the red zone it was Barnstaple’s discipline that was exemplary and earned them the chance to win this with a penalty kick right at the death which Tyler slotted with the ease of a seasoned pro.
So that’s me leaving the ground smiling, happy and satisfied eating plenty of humble pie. On to the next game and that is this weekend’s trip to the Midlands and a first meeting between the Chiefs and Stourbridge. It is going to be a real tricky encounter as well for the Chiefs as Stourbridge had an unexpected extra week’s rest being unable to field the requisite 5 forwards for their match against Leicester Lions last weekend, which was postponed. So, the Chiefs go there with their tails up and into a game which they will have a chance at as Stourbridge currently sit at the foot of the table with just one win. However, that win should ring warning belles as it was a 55-25 win over Hornets back in October, so our defence and disipline has to be at its best of that there is no doubt, but with two wins on the road already this season against Bournville and the aforementioned Hornets I really believe the Chiefs have a chance in this game, especially if they can reproduce the efforts of last Saturday.
Thankfully there were no additional injuries last Saturday and the team to face Stourbridge is relatively unchanged with just a couple of positions changing as Brendan Darley and Sam Roberts start this weekend, here then is the Chiefs team to face Stourbridge.
ATHLETIC, BUCC’S AND COLTS
Athletic almost got revenge last Saturday when they visited Ivybridge where they lost narrowly 24-22. There’s not much I can tell you about the game but it must have been a corker. Today they are at home to face Exmouth Quins and a win at home in this game will certainly get their tails up after last Saturday. They will face a possibly rejuvenated Exmouth Quins who secured their first win since mid-October last Saturday beating Brixham II 41-20, that’s a lot of points they put on the board and this side might have turned a corner, especially as their first three games of the season resulted in three wins including a 24-19 home win over Barnstaple who will have to be careful not to give the visitors too many opportunities if they wish to avenge that result. Currently Barnstaple are just one ahead of Exmouth in 6th place in the league and by six points, however Exmouth do have a game in hand so a win today for either team will be massive.
Todays team to get that win has several changes including the return of Conner Swan, Luke Knight and Alex O’Donoghue, here then is Barnstaple Athletic to face Exmouth Quins
The Bucc’s are back in action at Exmouth looking to erase that memory of their first loss of the season to Exeter Engineers, yet despite that loss they are still top by just two points with Bideford and Exeter Engineers hot on their heels, so a good win here today is all important.
The Colts are at home, horary, it’s been too long. They take on Brixham Colts and it will be interesting to see how they got on as I have, like the rest of you, no idea how good this Colts team is compared to last season where we saw plenty of their games and an absolute pleasure it was too. It is a shame but that’s the luck of the draw as they say but I expect them to give a really good account of themselves and grab a good win today. Below is the team to do just that.
Well, that’s me all wrapped up, but before you go we have some Barnstaple Rugby hats for sale behind the bar. Don’t forget it is the final league game of 2022 next Saturday as the Chiefs welcome Hornets to Pottington Road in what is going to be an absolute blinder of a match, kick off is 2pm. Good luck to all our teams playing today and I’ll catch you all next week with more details of the Boxing Day Derbies.