Good evening and welcome to 2024 as we begin a new year of rugby and if 2023 is anything to go by, we are in for a real treat in 2024. All three senior sides are in great positions for the final half of the season with the Chiefs in second place tied on points with Devonport and two points ahead of Chew Valley. This weekend the Chiefs take on the leaders in another top of the table clash for the lads as they travel to Devonport Services, these critical games do come thick and fast at the lads don’t they.
This weekend features Barnstaple Athletic at Pottington Road, ready and eager to welcome 4th placed Withycombe in what will be a highly charged encounter full of exciting rugby, kick off is 2pm. Athletic are in third place at present 5 points adrift of their Devonport Counterparts with Torquay sandwiched between them and a win here today against a very good Withycombe team will see them pile on the pressure.
Then there is the Buccaneers who whilst having a comfortable lead at the top of the Devon Merit table NE with a comfortable 19-point lead, they cannot rest on their laurels as Exeter Engineers have three games and any slip up will give them the edge. THis Saturdat the Bucc’s are also on home soil as they welcome South molton II to Pottington Road
As for the Colts They have a couple of weeks rest until later in the month. The Colts continue their campaign to reach the finals of the Colts season as they hope to improve in the second league stage of the Devon Colts merit table.
We start with the sad news of the passing of ian Jewel aged 66
Ian Thomas Jewell
17th May 1957 – 29th December 2023
It is with the heaviest of hearts that we must share the news that Ian has passed away.
Sandra, Sheila, Ryan, Amy, Lewis, and families would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of beautiful messages and support given to them all at this sad time.
Ians Celebration of Life will be on Friday 12th January at 9.40am at the North Devon Crematorium, followed by Barnstaple Rugby Club. All welcome. Dress code – traditional funeral attire.
Family flowers only.
As Ian’s passion was sport, if you wish to donate in Ian’s name you can either give at the service or go to http://www.wsgayton.co.uk/ where all contributions will be used to encourage sports for the benefit of those starting off in sport in North Devon.
Barnstaple rugby would also like to extend their deepest sympathies to Ian’s family and friends at this sad time and may Ian rest in peace
We also have two big events coming your way in the New Year with Ladies Day on 2nd March and Sportsman’s Dinner with England and Exeter Chiefs Ben Moon detials below
So, another massive game for the Chiefs as they travel to Devonport with that win over Chew Valley just before Christmas giving them the boost they need as they again take on the league leaders. These two teams first meet back in September when the Chiefs coasted to their win at Pottington Road beating Devonport 41-16. Since then, Devonport have matured and gone from strength to strength losing only one other and a narrow loss at that, beaten at Chew Valley 12-11 a game that could have gone either way. They have yet to loss since that one back in October and are currently on a six-game winning streak which sees them pip the Chiefs for first place courtesy of a very slightly better points difference and are yet to lose at home this season. That’s the task facing the Chiefs this Saturday as well as the fact that Devonport would dearly like to avenge that scoreline between the two sides earlier in the season.
This does mean that Barnstaple will need to be at the top of their game and yes, I know I have said this plenty of times, but the Chiefs really need to get a grip of these penalties. Time and again the Chiefs are letting teams off the hook with too many penalties and once that gets into the referees head you are always going to lose the 50-50 calls.
In particular, against Chew Valley Barnstaple had the perfect start with a try straight from the kick-off and a chance to put Chew Valley under the cosh for a sustained period of pressure to push ahead. Instead, a stupid penalty blocking the kicker as their full back chased his own kick began a prolonged series of penalties which saw Chew Valley camped in Chiefs territory for most of the first period. Things improved well for the second half as there were less penalties and the last 20 minutes saw how much better a rugby playing side Barnstaple were and could have racked up a considerable score to win this one if they had played at that standard for the full 80 minutes and not scraped the 20-19 win.
Now there is no better time to turn over that new leaf as the New Year and if Barnstaple keep their discipline and play the rugby that we all know and have seen in previous games, but for the whole 80 minutes they will have a chance of putting down a marker that all other teams will need to take note of, especially their opponents Devonport, who still have to travel to Brixham and Launceston in their campaign.
Barnstaple Chiefs make several changes to last time out with captain Sam Robeerts moving to the wing and jake Murphy returning to his favoured position of outside centre. Adam Lloyd also returns to the second row with Matt Gohl at flanker, here then is your Chiefs to face Devonport Services
barnstaple ATHLETIC and Buccs
Athletic rounded of another good first half of the season with a good win at South Molton. A scoreless first half was turned on its head as the Tic’s scored three second half tries, through Ryan Smale, Harvey Rostock and Cameron Grizzle-Johnson, all converted by Cameron, secured the win 10-21. What was pleasing here is that the Tic’s showed up for the second half, I have been critical of this in the past but it does seem like they have got their act together in that regard and it will be interesting to see more of the same as they take on 4th placed Withycombe at Pottington Road this Saturday.
With just 5 points separating Athletic and the top two, Devonport and Torquay, a win at home today is absolutely critical for the Tic’s to keep the pressure on the leaders, especially as they still have to travel to both those teams in what is shaping up to be a big finale to the Counties 2 Tribute Devon league.
Withycombe though come to Pottington Road with seven wins under their belts and a fairly good season so far behind them. Although recent loses to Exeter Saracens away and Honiton at home suggests they have little consistency with their results however the 16-12 home win over Torquay does show when it clicks, they are a dangerous team to face. Last season Barnstaple had the honours winning both fixtures and earlier this season it was Barnstaple again who struck first blood with a very closely fought 27-31 win. Can they get another win over today’s visitors well there is a huge boost to their squad with the welcome return of Arthur Marks who has been out for such a long time and it will be great to finally see him back on the fied, aas it will be to see Alex Hookway back again fully revovered, both start the game.
The Bucc’s welcome South Molton II to Pottington Road knowing that any letting the foot off the gas so to speak will give Exeter Engineers every encouragement with their three games in hand to overcome Barnstaple’s big points lead in the table. So no respite just yet but a ggod win here will be another step towards that title.
Here then is your Athletic and Buccaneers teams for this Saturday
Good luck this weekend to all three of our senior sides and let’s make it a triple finish this weekend. Next weekend at Pottington Road we have the mouth-watering prospect of welcoming Exmouth to Barnstaple in what will be an absolutely cracking game of rugby, as they always are between these two. Kick off will be 2pm
Next weekend is also a massive game for Athletic and one that will give them a massive boost if they win as they travel to league leaders Devonport II, a huge game with huge rewards.
That’s about it from me, enjoy your rugby wherever you are watching it and I will catch up with you all next weekend.