“I could not be more proud of the lads who gave it their total commitment but in the end came up just short ”
Michael "Rhino" Whitfield
“And the rain rain rain came down down down
So Piglet started bailing.
He was unaware, atop his chair,
While bailing he was sailing!”*
*Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day 1968
Barnes went down fighting 19-26 against National 2 South League leaders Rams Rugby last Saturday. It was a valiant and 100% committed performance from Barnes throughout and an almost perfect response after the disappointing result the week before against Guernsey. Despite the appalling conditions, both sides went at it hammer and tongs for the full 80 minutes.
If it has just been blustery it would have been ok, but blustery combined with driving cold rain made for a very unpleasant set of conditions for players and spectators alike.
The Rams are renowned for their big roughty-toughty pack. Playing them on a nice dry pitch would have been hard enough but on a pitch oil slick slippery with rain, once the Ram’s got a nudge on it was impossible for the much lighter Barnes pack to do anything but slip back further. This gave Rams a massive advantage, which grew and grew throughout the game.
Although we lost the game, the Ram’s scrum advantage s was only part of the story in a fascinating encounter, which Barnes could quite easily have sneaked.
Barnes played much smarter rugby in the first half than last weekend, forwards and backs making the right call more often than not and exiting well. The game started brightly for Barnes with the forwards building pressure patiently before Russell Nimmo drove through from a maul to touch down. With Charlie Wicks missing the extras we lead 5-0 after only three minutes, but a few minutes later the Rams drew level. For the next twenty minutes, we competed on even terms before a missed tackle let the Rams through our line and as we approached the break, we were 5-12 down.
As I said last week, this band of brothers are a resilient lot and the forwards pushed the Rams further and further back in their 22, forcing a loose pass which the ravenous hunting hawk, Johan van der Poel, seized upon and then burst through the flailing defence to score under the posts. This allowed Charlie Wicks to slot an easy conversion making the score at the break 12-12. A brilliant performance by the lads in that first half.
In the second half, Rams turned the screw in the scrum and received a good return, netting two penalty tries and a technical yellow card for Captain Collo as the ref eventually lost patience with our lack of control in the set piece. With the Rams now leading 12-26, it looked all over, but still the Barnes boys would lay down, and they piled back at the Rams, scoring through Freddy Avis, with Charlie Wicks converting. With only three minutes left there simply was not enough time to exert sufficient pressure to mount a further attack, and that was it.
I am very proud of the lads for that performance. On dry ground I would have fancied our chances. We are improving, and the results will come. Hopefully this weekend we will see one of those at Tonbridge Juddian,
In a host of other games last weekend, the 2’s thumped Ram’s 2’s 45-10, the Occies won a thriller 26-21 against Reeds Weybridge and the Vets got their season underway with a convincing 29-0 home win against Belsize Park 5th XV, a game notable for the return to rugby of Freddy Delamaine at the tender age of 52. Freddy, Captain on the 1st XV in the 90’s marked his return with a try!
On Sunday, Barnes broke new ground with the Ladies fielding two teams on the same day for the first time ever. The 1st XV lost narrowly away to Streatham and Croydon Ladies 17-12, whilst the 2nd XV continuing their dream start in life with a resounding home victory 61-24 against Reading Abbey.
Looking at the 1st XV game, it is a few years since we played Tonbridge Juddians, the 2014/15 campaign in National 3 as it was then. That season we beat Exmouth in the playoffs, Bury having won the league outright. Then we were beaten soundly at their place 3-8, in a very rainy and muddy encounter, but were soundly beaten at Barn Elms 16-30.
After a gallant and valiant performance last week the boys will be looking for more than a single losing bonus point to reward their endeavours, and they are more than capable of doing just that.
This is the full range of games this weekend:
Saturday 15th October
• Tonbridge Juddians 1st XV vs Barnes 1st XV - 3pm KO
• Old Elthamians 2nd XV vs Barnes 2nd XV - 3pm KO
• Occies vs KCS Old Boys - Cup Game - 3pm XV
• Harrodian Vets vs Esher Vets - Cup Game - 3pm KO
Sunday 14th October
• Battersea Ironsides Ladies vs Barnes Ladies 1st XV - 2pm KO
Let’s have an amazing weekend of Barnes Rugby, played in the original spirit, and to a well-deserved win for the 1’s at TJ’s.
Onwards Barnow! Onwards the green and gold!
See you at the weekend.
Michael “Rhino” Whitfield – Chairman Barnes RFC
Updated 15:23 - 10 Oct 2018 by Michael Whitfield