Good evening and welcome back the blog and boy have we got a packed edition for you this week with plenty of news on the horizon but first lets deal with this weekend’s action. There are Three Barnstaple teams in action, The Bucc’s were meant to be at home but was called off. Athletic are at home against 4th placed Exeter Saracens, whilst the Chiefs travel to Lydney who have yet to lose at home this season and the Colts travel to Crediton having won their first game of 2024 last Saturday.

We also have another extra home game in April as the Chiefs have elected to take part in the Papa John Community Cup. April 13th is the day you need to mark in your diaries as the Chiefs welcome back Launceston for what will be an exciting cup game.

So what is the Papa Johns community cup I hear you ask? Well it is a grassroots competition for teams playing at Regional 1 leagues and below. There are different tiers of competition that clubs have qualified into by virtue of their playing record after games on the 16 December. Essentially the regions for the pool stages are Southwest, Southeast, Northwest and Northeast with Midlands teams allocated to which of those four regions they fall into.

The draw for this season’s Papa John’s Men’s Community Cup has put Barnstaple Chiefs competing in the Regional 1 Championship in pool 3 with our friends Launceston, Oxford Harlequins, remember our battles with them, and Banbury, with the first game at home against Launceston then the other matches the Chiefs will be visiting both Oxford Harlequins and Banbury.

The winner of this pool goes on to face the winner of pool 4 in a semi-final match to determine who from the South of England will compete for the Championship cup against the winner of the semi-final of the north England teams at Twickenham on May 11th.

Below is the schedule and dates for you to mark in your calendars with the venue of the semi-final as yet unconfirmed, it might be here at Pottington Road if the Chiefs make it that far.

The pool they are in is a tough one with Launceston obviously in 4th place in our league, but also Oxford Harlequins, who are looking good for promotion to National two status, leading Regional 1 Midlands by 9 points, having only lost once all season and Banbury who are currently fourth in that same league but out of the running for any promotion prospects.

We have a great offer for you for the final home game of the season on March 23rd when we welcome St. Austell to Pottington Road, and that is a 2 course pre match lunch for just £30 per person or if there is a group of you £300 for a table of ten but hurry as places are going fast.

There is also the Sportsman’s dinner featuring a question and answers session with England international and Exeter Chiefs Ben Moon on March 14th. Tickets are still available details for both are below.

Sorry ladies but the Ladies day event for next weekend is sold out.

BARNSTAPLE CHIEFS

Let’s see how a week’s rest revitalises a Chiefs team which has been playing well recently and last time out excelled with a storming second half performance to see off a tough Launceston team, taking control of the game and grabbing the bonus point at the end by pushing over the scrum, something you rarely see at this level but is glorious to watch. Two tries from Cameron Grizzle-Johnson, the first a lightning-fast interception within the Chiefs 22 saw him race clear for the only score of the first half. These were supported by a try from returnee Jordan Petherbridge as Nat Bayet fed him the ball with acres of space the run through the Launceston defence and finally of course that push over try. With three conversions from Tyler the Chiefs enjoyed a well-earned 26-8 victory as they dominated the second half playing into the wind.

Today they have another tough encounter as the Chiefs travel to Lydney who despite their current record of only 8 wins from 17 games, they are yet to lose at home, winning all eight fixtures. The Chiefs will be the first of the top three to visit Lydney and back in December Launceston lost there 38-15. This is a tough team to compete against on their home soil and the Chiefs will need to be at their very best to get something from this game, preferably the win which will double the pressure on the other two.

As the league stands, especially with Devonport and Chew Valley having played their game in hand, it is Devonport who hold the advantage as we go into the final five matches. Devonport are currently 6 points clear of Chew Valley and 7 points clear of Barnstaple and with all three to visit Lydney, so a win this Saturday for the Chiefs is crucial.

The chiefs welcome back Arthur Marks for his first game for the Chiefs this season and with no Jake Murphy this weekend JP start at 10 with Tyler moving to full back, here then is the Chiefs team to face Lydney

 

BARNSTAPLE ATHLETIC

Well, what can we say about Barnstaple athletic. They have absolutely excelled in the second half of the season, including on the road where they have beaten both their title contenders Devonport several weeks ago 9-34 and then Torquay a fortnight ago 15-22. At the heart of these wins was of course Athletics defence which has been superb all season and was fundamental in both their opponents suffering their first home defeats of the season and not allowing either opponent to score any tries as both Torquay and Devonport were reduced to just penalty scores. In fact, this was Torquay’s first home defeat for something like six seasons.

First half tries from Ben Jago and Arthur Marks followed by second half tries from Luke Knight and Mitch Turner secured the bonus point victory which now leaves Barnstaple Athletic 10 points clear with Torquay just 1 game in hand, a commanding position to be in with just 5 games to go.

Complacency though must not take root as there are still several difficult hurdles to overcome as they chase the title and the first of those is the home game this Saturday against Exeter Saracens who are currently in 4th place with 10 wins under their belt. Those wins also include a recent home win against Torquay 15-13. This will be a tough opponent to face for the Tic’s and they will need to be at their best to ensure that gap at the top remains in place. Athletic do seem to have hit their peak at just the right time and I can see that peak lasting right through to the end of the season.

There are a number of returnees to Athletic’s team including Captain Scott Incledon and Ben Beattie and long-time absentees, Mikey Nott and Chris Philpot. Here then is Barnstaple Athletics squad for this Saturday.

 

THe buccaneers and Colts

The Buccaneers. 

Another cancelled game and more frustration for the current leaders of Devon Merit Table 1 NE, Barnstaple Buccaneers who lead by 8 points over their only real threat for this title, Exeter Engineers who have just one game in hand and the two are still yet to meet at Exeter. 

Colts. 

They did it and finally got that all important first win of 2024 in what was an exhilarating game of rugby. With the scores even at 7 apiece at half time it was all to play for as Barnstaple Colts played the second half up the slope.

Newton Abbot scored first but missed the conversion and with both teams having their periods of possession it was Barnstaple’s turn to make it count as they put everything into it playing some good second half rugby and finally crossed the line after a series of phases opened up the tiniest of cracks in the visitor’s defence. The conversion was brilliantly slotted in from the sideline to give the Colts a 14-12 lead and then it was 10 minutes of pure defence as the lads tackled their hearts out with Newton Abbot throwing everything including the kitchen sink at them, but this time Barnstaple’s colts were not going to concede the ground and kept their opponents out to win.

This first win might just be the confidence booster the Colts needed to be able to finish the season on a high. They certainly need it as they now have the chance to exact revenge of Crediton Colts where they travel to this Saturday.

Another weekend passes us by and it’s not long before the season ends. Just two more home games for the Chiefs after today and both of those are in March. Next Saturday the Chiefs take another break before the they welcome Matson to Pottington Road on March 2nd, kick off is at 2pm

Athletic also have a break next weekend before traveling to Honiton on March 2nd with the Buccaneers, this season’s crazy isn’t it with big gaps in playing for the senior sides. Anyway the Colts are home next weekend against Ivybridge which is sure to be a belter of a match kick off is 2pm.

Good luck all our teams playing this Saturday and I will be taking another break next weekend although i will be pitch side to shoot the Colts game. catch up with you all in a fortnight. Also don’t forget to grab your tickets for the Sportsman’s Dinner. Enjoy your rugby wherever your watching it.

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