Welcome back to another Mighty Barum blog post and a lot to get through today as the season thunders on at a pace. Today we have the Chiefs at home in a crunch bottom of the table clash with first time visitors to Pottington Road, Newport (Salop), with today’s game sponsored by long term supporters of the club, Webbers Estate Agents and the Golden Oldies, in what is a must win game for the Chiefs. Athletic are also at home this week to North Tawton and following that excellent win against 3rd placed Honiton last Saturday, a win today will really put them in the mix for a top four spot. Disappointment for the Bucc’s last Saturday as their game was called off but today a fairly short trip to South Molton will raise their spirits while the Colts have a tough game as they visit Exeter Athletic colts.
Before that though here are some announcements this time in chronological order for no other reason except that I just wanted to type it that way, so here goes then. We begin with a very special offer of HALF PRICE SILVER MEMBERSHIPS FOR REMAINDER OF SEASON £50 (£45 oap) for free entry to both the Chiefs and Athletics home games for the rest of the season, For full details and how to apply click here https://www.barnstaplerugby.co.uk/2023/01/half-price-season-tickets/
February the 4th bears witness to a very important home game for the Chiefs as they play the rearranged fixture against the Hornets which was postponed back in December. This will be a vital game in the Chiefs bid to stay above the drop zone, so we really need the biggest crowd of the season on that day. In fact, it’s a massive fortnight for the Chiefs as the week beforehand they are also at home to Dings Crusaders so exciting times ahead.
Equally important is the start of the Six Nations with the Club showing as many games as possible including ALL THE England fixtures which begin on February the 4th against Scotland immediately after the Hornets game. There may be some specials on offer but nothing has been decided yet so keep an eye on the website and social media pages. In the mean time here is the dates and times for the Six Nations.
Also on February 25th, when we welcome Bournville to Pottington road, is a great Pre-match dinner offer of a 2-course meal including members discount for individual bookings, details below.
Finally don’t forget that the rugby ramble is on March the 23rd with some of our very own Tuesday club of volunteers taking part as a tribute to Ronnie Isaacs who sadly passed away in December. Want to take part yourself? why not there’s a delicious hot pasty to set you on your way, a pint at the midway point to keep you going plus a final pint at the finish line. Then settle in to watch the crunch England vs Ireland game, potentially THE deciding game of the Six Nations, in the best atmosphere anywhere in North Devon. For more details visit the North Devon Hospice website here https://www.northdevonhospice.org.uk/support-us/events/rugby-ramble/
Wow, that was a mouthful now to the Chiefs and not a great result for the Barnstaple last Saturday as they faced third placed Hinckley, losing 38-5. They must have left their playing boots on the bus as the home side blitzed the Chiefs in the first 10 minutes scoring three tries. Again, ill-discipline cost the Chiefs any chance of regrouping with three yellows from which Hinckley scored a further three tries during two of them and thus securing the game. The Chiefs though did regroup after half time and whilst Hinckley scored that sixth try right at the start, once back to fifteen the only other score of the game came from Barnstaple as Cameron Johnson scored his first league try for the Chiefs, but by then the hill was just too steep to climb. So, a tough day up at Hinckley in a game of two completely differing halves. It was always going to be tough up there to get anything from this one and it’s now time to put that one behind them and crack on with the next game.
That game of course is here at Pottington Road where Barnstaple welcomes for the first time Newport (Salop) to Pottington Road and a bottom of the table clash. Newport hail from Shropshire and were founded in 1946, yet despite their seemingly young age, there are in fact reports of rugby being played at Newport as far back as 1871 where the game was introduced to the pupils of Adams Grammar School, as well as a town team that was formed close by. There have been sporadic reports of rugby matches played in the area prior to the war but not until 1946 was the club formerly founded by Roy “Squash” Lemon who had settled in Newport after the war and having placed a notice in local newspaper, calling on “All like-minded persons and any other interested parties” to attend a meeting. That meeting, in 1947, agreed to start Newport (Salop) Rugby Union Football Club. Who was Roy Lemon, well here’s the West Country connection as he was a second row who had previously played for Torquay, whilst during the war he also played for the Combined Services (Far East) in a match against the “All Blacks”.
Similar to Barnstaple a large number of Newport’s first XV started rugby in the junior section of the Club which is a strong feature of Newport providing the backbone of players as we all too well appreciate here at Barnstaple. 2016/17 would be a big season for the club after winning the Midlands 1 west Newport were promoted to Midlands premier missing out on promotion in 2019-20 to run away league winners that season, Bournville, who visit us at the end of February. Following year in similar fashion to the Chiefs a season earlier, made certain of promotion by winning the league 13 points clear of Sheffield.
Currently this season they have three wins under their belt including the 25-18 win over the Chiefs back in September where 2 tries in the last six minutes of the game gave them victory. Their other two wins have come at the expense of Bournville and away to Stourbridge, which the Chiefs will have to take a serious note of as Newport racked up 37 points in that game.
This could be an issue for the Chiefs because being one win better than Newport, the visitors head the Chiefs by one point thanks to seven try bonus points and three losing bonus points of which they gained one of each against Leicester Lions at home just last weekend in a very closely contested game which the league leaders finally won following an early scare 32-38. Newport are very capable of scoring tries and this should not just make Barnstaple wary of their opponents this Saturday but if the Chiefs play to what they are capable of it will make for a very enjoyable game of rugby.
Newport do come into this game on a seven-game losing streak and have a propensity to leak tries having conceded the most points in the league this season. They have also scored the least number of tries on the road, so if ever there was chance for the chiefs to lay down their intent on staying up this season then this game is it. This is very much another chance for the Chiefs to secure a second home win and a very valuable one at that as it is so important to beat the teams that surround you if you wish to prosper in this league. It will also give the Chiefs some confidence to push on with Dings Crusaders and Hornets visiting in successive weeks after the trip to Luctonians next weekend. These are the weekends we enjoy as supporters despite how much anxiety and heart stopping moments the day gives us.
There are several changes to last week’s team with the welcome return of Dylan Gosling and Ben Hilton. With Tyler Gordon-Oke back at fly half, Jake Murphy returns to the centre to partner Johny Carter. Here then is the Chiefs team to face Newport.
ATHLETIC, COLTS and BUCCS
Barnstaple Athletic had a tough challenge which they needed to overcome as they began the first of seven consecutive home fixtures during January and February and last Saturday was so important that they began this campaign on a positive note against a team that not only third in the league but also beat Athletic when they visited back in October, Honiton, so a big task for the Tic’s. The first half start with the majority of the early pressure coming from Honiton resulted in them taking the lead 0-5. Barnstaple though regrouped immediately and took the game to Honiton quickly scoring to take the lead 7-5 following the conversion. With the wind behind them Honiton continued to press but Athletic showed some real steel with an excellent defensive wall that would not allow the visitors any foothold and despite several attacks of their own the half ended 7-5.
The second half with the wind behind them Barnstaple took control of proceedings as their excellent defensive snuffed out any notion of Honiton scoring in the game, producing plenty of attacking rugby themselves and two tries to the good in the second half gave Athletic a very well-deserved win that now moves them closer to that top four tier in the league. I must say it was a very enjoyable match with Barnstaple overcoming a good opponent and does bode well for the rest of their season.
That continues today as Athletic welcome North Tawton to Pottington Road and a big win here should put them right in the mix. Earlier in the season at North Tawton, Athletic came away with the spoils 12-26 and if they can produce the sort of display they did against Honiton last Saturday then there is no reason why they cannot grab the win today.
The team to do just that includes the return of Alfie Pennyfield, here then is the Athletic team to play north Tawton
The Colts faced a visiting Brixham Colts at home last Saturday and what was a really good game of rugby by both teams. finishing in a 7-15 loss for Barnstaple Colts. Playing uphill in the first half it was Barnstaple that scored first and although Brixham were to get one back a half time, Barnstaples lead of 7-5 looked a good place for them to be in. Unfortunately playing downhill Barnstaple was unable to capitalise on it as the playing surface got even heavier underfoot and despite some good rugby played, they struggled to get any fluency into their game in the later stages. Two second half tries from Brixham sealed the win for them in what was another very entertaining game of rugby played by two very good Colts sides. For the Colts they can take a lot of positives from their first competitive game in a long time.
Today they travel to Exeter Athletic Colts in a tough match but one I’m sure now that they have this first game of the year under their belts, they will be eager to get a result from. Next Saturday the Colts are off to another tough fixture as they travel to Okehampton to play their Colts.
Here is the Colts team for Saturday’s game against Exeter Athletic Colts.
For the Bucc’s it will be a great chance to get their campaign back on track having not played since the end of November when they suffered their first loss of the season to title chasing rivals Exeter Engineers, so today’s trip to South Molton is a really important day to get back on the wagon for the Bucc’s. Last weekend’s cancelled game against Honiton 2nd XV has given them an automatic home win which has jumped them back to the top spot with just two points separating them and Exeter Engineers. Next weekend they are back at home to face Crediton 3rd XV.
That’s all from me for this weekend good luck to all our teams playing today and to everyone else make sure your voices are heard loud and clear with the Barum roar and give the lads that extra push for the win. Don’t forget we will be showing the Heineken Champions Cup 3rd round games being show in the clubhouse throughout the day