“With the Raiders pounding away on our line in wave in overtime it was inevitable they would ruin our party - and the did! ”
Michael "Rhino" Whitfield
Barnes travelled to Guernsey last weekend with a spring in their step following the previous two week’s good results, and with several key players back in the squad were looking forward to another good weekend with a Barnow win, just as they did last year in the key promotion game.
Yes, we knew it would be a very tough game, they always are against the Raiders, and that it would go down to the wire, the last four encounters have all been nail-biting at the end, one side pushing for the win, the other hanging on by a thread to victory.
But this one was a real gut-wrencher, even as I think back a few days, it is still massively disappointing to remember our often Guernsey nemesis, Layton Baptiste, crashing over to score the winning try in the fifth minute of extra time.
That try, under the posts, made it 20-21, and with the conversion a formality, our fate was sealed.
I sat there incredulous, a sinking feeling completely removing all of the excitement and joy we had felt in the build-up. And I am afraid we had only ourselves to blame.
Earlier in the season at Barn Elms, we fell into home coach Jordy Reynolds’s trap, and were ambushed into an arm wrestle, which we lost. We shouldn’t have done that then, so there was absolutely no reason to fall into exactly the same trap again. But we bleedin' well did.
From the home team’s kick off, we put ourselves under pressure by not catching the ball, and the first half was largely the Raiders grinding us down and us making silly errors, largely unforced (knock-ons, penalties etc). We hardly touched the ball n the first half and, as half time beckoned, we had “nul points” after forty minutes for the first time that I can remember in a very long time. We just didn’t get any ball, which starved our backs, almost to death!
The second half started much like the first, our kick this time went straight into touch, immediately handing the Raiders the initiative back with a chance to push us around in the set piece as they had all of the first half. But at halftime, we had made some much-needed personnel changes, better late than never (but it was late IMHO)! This transformed a creaking scrum into one which began to dominate, growing in confidence by the minute, and winning the critical battle of the breakdown.
With their drought now over, and with a plentiful supply of ball, the Barnes backs at last were able to cut loose. With clean, quick ball, the halfbacks pairing of two Josh’s (Davies and Hammett) were able to keep the Barnes pack continually on the front foot and, at last, releasing both their potency, and that of our centres and back three.
Both Josh’s were rewarded with a try apiece, both of which Hammett converted. Now with Tom O’Toole and Robbie Martey combining effortlessly to cut the opposition to shreds, Barnes were bossing the game and in control.
When Robbie Martey rounded off another Barnes attack in style on 70 minutes, and Hammett bagging the extras, leading 15-21 Barnes looked like they had this one in the bag, despite conceding another try to a driving maul by the Raiders pack.
But it wasn’t to be. With five minutes left, after a knock on here, and a penalty there, the Raiders were camped in our 22 and they weren’t going anywhere. Sniffing blood and victory, they drove relentlessly for the line. Time after time, wave after wave, Barnes bravely defended, but there was a growing sense of dread and inevitability about the denouement.
And then it happened, that beast of a man Batiste only went and pissed on our cornflakes, and it was game over. Final score 22-21 Raiders. Gutting.
Raiders thoroughly deserved the win, they never gave up, and we completely wasted the first half.
We undoubtedly have the talent in our 1st XV squad, but if we want to be a consistent performer, and threat, in this league, then we absolutely have to eliminate the basic errors that are currently punctuating our game, reduce the penalty count, and we simply must sort out our line outs. These three areas combined are a millstone around our necks, and seriously hamper our performances. We are robbing ourselves of points that we simply don’t need to be, and now is the time to look in the mirror and sort it out.
Rant over, we move on, lessons learned (I sincerely hope!)
Before looking forward I also want to say how welcome we were made again by our Guernsey hosts Mike and Charlie, both before and after the game, and in The Swan later, where many of the home team didn’t come to gloat but to celebrate the camaraderie of rugby, opposing gladiators on the pitch but rugby brothers off it, just as it should be.
We have 11 games left of the season, and we are in 11th place. We must look to win at least half of them, and guess what? Not one of them is easy, this is an incredibly tough league, and I mean incredibly tough.
Every side will scrap right until the end of the season, for every miserly point. We should be targeting a mid-table position at the end of this season. There are six points between us and the team in 6th place. So it is entirely doable. And I know these boys, they will do every thing in their power to acheive this.
Tough games couldn’t be tougher than next week’s away trip to the league leaders, and potential league champions Rams (the club previously known as Redinensians :-)
We lost closely at our place earlier in the season, but we were competitive.
I know the lads are crest fallen after last week, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and they will lick their wounds, use the pain to drive them forwards, regroup, train their arses off, and go into Saturday as wounded lions….I fully expect them to put last week’s defeat behind them and move onto Saturday with utter conviction and a steely resolve to make amends.
Dig deep Barnow, take a big breath, stiffen up the sinews, and bring home some delicious Rams bacon!
Barnes 2nd XV 17 Bishops Stortford 29
The 2nd XV also came second this week, playing at home to Bishops Stortford, currently riding high at the top of Zoo Shield 1. After a disappointing first half, which saw us trailing 10-22 at the break, Barnes competed much better in the second period, clawing back the deficit to 17-29 at the end. We hope for better things for the rest of this season.
Guernsey Vets 60 Barnes Vets 20
Barnes Vets were overwhelmed by a Guernsey team that was younger, fitter, and that had not been drinking until 4am the previous night!
“The worst I have ever seen the boyos hanging” was how Jose Fernandez so eloquently described it in his disarming high pitched Welsh lilt.
Skips for the tour, Si Currant, was incoherent afterwards, some said that it was due to a bang on the head, some that he was always like that and some that it was because had drunk so much gin the night before after becoming a victim of multiple successful golf balling incidents.
Love Island’s own Rich Fenech said: “the only way we could have won that is if the fumes in the scrum from our lads had rendered the entire Guernsey pack unconscious”.
Despite the loss, it was a great trip for Barnes Vets, and they certainly contributed to a massive peak in the Island's financial strength over the weekend! Rugby is alive and well and lives in Barnes, as the Vets demonstrated in bucket loads, and it is what playing in the original spirit of Ebenezer Cobb Morley, that we so embrace at Barnes Rugby Club, is all about.
There is a full range of Barnes fixtures this weekend which are as follows:
Saturday 26th January
• Rams vs Barnes 1st XV - 2pm KO
• Rams 2nd XV vs Barnes 2nd XV - 2pm KO
• Reeds Weybridge vs Occies - 2pm KO
• Camberley Vets vs Barnes Harrodians Vets - 2pm KO
Sunday 27th January
• Hackney Ladies - Barnes Ladies 2nd XV - 2pm KO
Here’s to an amazing weekend of Barnow Rugby, with the 1st XV upsetting the form book at Rams!
Onwards and Upwards Barnow!
Michael “Rhino” Whitfield - Chairman Barnes RFC
Updated 20:56 - 6 Feb 2019 by Michael Whitfield