“it wasn't pretty, but we're are just pleased to be back in the saddle after several weeks without games”
Michael "Rhino" Whitfield
This weekend we warmly welcome Shelford back to Barnes after a break of several years. We were due to meet a couple of weeks back but the Beast from the East put paid to that! So we will meet on Saturday, on one of the few rest days of the season, whilst most of the normal rugby fans will be supporting their favourite Six Nations team.
Instead of doing that Barnes and Shelford will be trying to serve up a dish of high-quality rugby.
Before looking ahead to Saturday’s game, here is a quick recap of last week’s bruising encounter at Barn Elms between Barnes, and a resurgent Westcombe Park.
As predicted, since they lost to Barnes late last year in the away leg 10-51, Park have improved beyond all recognition. With a phalanx of new, and loan, players, this physical outfit do not deserve to be in the bottom three of the league. If they had had these players playing for them all season, then they would definitely be top half of the table by now.
But they are not there, they are fighting for their survival in this league. Although the final score of 33 -19 looks like a comfortable win for Barnes, it most certainly wasn’t. It should have been, if we had taken all of our chances!
Westcombe Park hassled us at each breakdown, slowed our quick ball down, and drove directly, and hard, around the fringes, and through the midfield, to great effect.
Whilst this muscular approach to attack was straightforward to defend, it did gradually wear us down, which allowed the visitors a couple of tries in the second half.
Just like the first game against them, we started slowly and were 0-7 down in no time. We then woke up, and in the blink of an eye, both wingers, Max Murray and Robbie Martey, had scored in the left-hand and right-hand corners. Charlie Wicks converted one of the brace, making the score Barnes 12 WP 7 after 15 minutes. At that stage, Barnes were running Park off the park, and Robbie Martey score his second, and his third, tries of the game to complete an absolutely outstanding hat-trick inside the first 30 minutes of the first half. With Charlie Wicks converting both, the score approaching half-time was 26 - 7 and all was looking quite comfortable for the home team, even after leaking a soft score just before the break to make the score at half-time 26-14.
The first twenty minutes of the second half were frustrating, for both teams. It was stalemate played out in no man’s land, between both two 22’s, as the two sides slugged it out on the heavy clay ground, well to be honest, squelched it out is a more accurate description. The deadlock was broken after Matt Cornish cut a gorgeous line, and smashed through the resilient Park back line to score under the posts. Again Charlie Wicks converted. The score was now 33-14 with 20 minutes left on the clock and, apart from one more score from Park, there was little more to write home about. Too many penalties, too many mistakes, not slick enough in our execution, we looked like a side that had not trained in a month, as that is exactly what we were.
We will need to sharpen up considerably in all our remaining fixtures, none of which is in any way easy, if we are serious about winning promotion from this league, back into National League 2.
And it starts this Saturday against Shelford, who last week nearly caused the shock of the season, losing out very narrowly at their place 21-22 to league leaders Guernsey.
We played one of our worst games of the season on Shelford’s artificial pitch earlier in the season, that despite winning 5-26! They are no rugby mugs at all, and we will need to bring our A game to Barn Elms at the weekend if we want to keep up the pressure on Guernsey in top spot.
There are five games left in the season. We are second in the league right now, effectively six points behind Guernsey (if we win on Saturday), two points above Tring in 3rd place and four points above Hertford in 4th place. So it is definitely squeaky bum time for Barnow, our backs are to the wall, and that nearly always brings out the best in us.
Knowing the lads, they will be well up for the game, and keen to put in a much better performance all round. Come on Barnow..I am excited already!
Other games last weekend
On Friday under the lights at Sutton and Epsom, Barnes went down in a close encounter 24-17 against London Irish Vets.
Saturday shined much more favourably on the 2’s who travelled to London Scottish, and put them to the sword 0-73, reversing the result of earlier in the season when Scottish beat Barnes at Barn Elms 5-59 at the start of the season, quite some turnaround.
On a weekend of topsy-turvy fortunes for Barnes team, the Occies were on the wrong end of a 59-8 loss at Old Haileyburians, whilst on Sunday, Barnes Ladies lost narrowly 21 - 29 at Barn Elms to East London Ladies
Completing the roller coaster set of results, Barnes Under 14's overcame Wimbledon Under 14’s 22 – 14.
Phew, what a weekend that was!
So what is happening this weekend?
On Saturday 17th only the 1st XV are playing:
• Barnes 1st XV vs Shelford 1st XV - 2.00pm KO
And on Sunday 18th March
• High Wycombe Belles vs Barnes Ladies XV - KO TBC
Here's to a brilliant win for Barnow on Saturday, played in the original spirit!
Onwards and Upwards!
Michael “Rhino” Whitfield
Updated 00:12 - 15 Mar 2018 by Michael Whitfield
Chairman – Barnes RFC