“Gutting to lose after getting so close, we are getting better each week!”
Michael "Rhino" Whitfield
On Saturday the 1st XV played Old Albanians at Barn Elms and we lost 24-33.
To be clear, OA’s didn’t beat us, we lost it.
Three games into the new season, Barnes has Played 3 - Won 1 - Lost 2. But it could have quite easily been very different. It could have been Played 3 Won 3. Sour grapes? Not a bit of it, just saying how it is, and the players know this too, There were several positives that came from the game, the most significant being how hacked off the players were with losing. Make no mistake, these boys care passionately.
However a good outpouring of grief might be, we must learn very quickly to win games like both Henley and OA’s. Not taking anything away from either of these opponents, they were both worthy, but we could have, and should have, taken both their scalps when they both on the ropes and ripe for the plucking.
The game was quick from the off and almost immediately we conceded one of too many penalties (I lost count after 10) and OA’s punished us to lead 0-3 after 15 minutes. Barnes forward fought back well and 5 minutes later Johan van de Poel muscled over, and with Charlie Wicks converting we lead 7-3 after the first quarter. We sat back too much in that first 20 minutes, almost preferring to sit and defend as opposed to attacking as we can. OA’s scored two trys in quick succession and, as we approached the break, we were 7-15 down. But we didn’t sit back then, our forward dominance began to emerge with first George Hunter powering over, closely followed right on half-time by Will Symonds and we lead 19-15 at the break.
After the break, OA’s came roaring out of the traps, and again we sat back and soon found ourselves behind 19-25 to a try and a drop goal. But from then on it was all Barnes, Our forwards marched back the OA’s pack time and time again. We camped in their 22 and Josh scored a great opportunist try from a quick tap-and-go penalty to reduce the deficit to 24-25. Barnes forwards completely dominated the next 15 minutes, we had three scrums on their line, twice OA’s took it down with no action from the ref and the third time we kicked it through and they cleared with 5 minutes to go. Our frustration boiled over after not scoring form the previous dominance, we gobbed off to the ref, are were promptly marched back 20 metres, From an innocuous position on their 22 they were then on the hallway line and converted from there to make it 24-28 to OAs. Our concentration well and truly went then and as full time approached OA’s took advantage, scored another try, game over 24-33 and one of the two possible losing bonus points gone.
There are some clear lessons we need to learn if we are to thrive in this league, which by the way we are more than capable of.
Firstly, we need to exit more cleanly in our own half, not give it to the oppo to run back, at this level they are too good and will punish you, and of course this doesn’t relieve pressure it just increases it.
Secondly, we need to score when the opportunities come up, clinical execution is what OA’s had and what we lacked on the two occasions when we were camped on their line, once in the first half and once in the second half, both after sustained periods of pressure. In addition, if we had converted the try in the first half then Rupert Crossland and Jack Garrett would not have clashed heads and had to go off! Ifs and buts and maybes I know but that’s how I saw it.
There were some positives though as I said.
We coped well with losing two of our starting front rows and the number 8 inside the first 30 minutes of the game, finishing stronger and pushing the OA’s pack backwards at pace in the 2nd half on nearly every scrummage. We scored four tries for the bonus point, and every time we conceded we bounced back to score (apart from the last 5 minutes ). And, after two dodgy weeks with the arrows going all over the shop, we were 100% successful.
If this sounds like me complaining, it isn’t. Everyone was gutted after losing on Saturday and this team is getting better each week and learning so much.
We travel to Bury St Edmunds on Saturday, a side we love playing, and who are excellent on the field and brilliant off it. Make no mistake, this is going to be our toughest game so far. They are a side of great physicality, big fit lads who score lots of points. When we last played them in the 16/17 season we lost both games, at our place 31-43 and at Bury 12-10 in a very close encounter. We are going to have to work our backsides off to get a result here, but this Barnes side are talented, resilient and they are very capable of doing just that and upsetting the home team!
Our Ladies 1st XV also had their first outing in the league game this season at Barn Elms against Cuffley Ladies. The Ladies were full of apprehension before the game, but thirsty for action and to prove themselves. After a tough season last year, we hit preseason training hard, outlining our robust new structure and game plan which we hoped would turn our fortunes around. And it did.
After 5 minutes Barnes made excellent use of quick ball from Barcroft, forcing their way up the pitch, with exceptional breaks from Odgers, Buckley Taylor and Bogue dominating play. A solid Barnes scrummage platform was established, gaining ground at every scrum. In the second half, our confidence grew resulting in tries from Stone, Davies and Lundberg. Whilst fatigue set in at the end we only conceded twice, winning 36-12 to Barnes Ladies. Well done to both of the Ladies XV’s who have won both opening games.
We have another weekend of games ahead, with the 1st XV away to Bury and the 2’s and Occies at home on Saturday.
Saturday 22nd September
• Bury St Edmunds v Barnes 1st XV - 3pm KO
• Barnes 2nd XV - Cinderford - 3pm KO
• Occies vs Economicals - 3pm KO
Good luck to all of the Barnes teams playing this weekend, may we play in the original spirit we hold so dear at Barnes RFC!
Onwards and Upwards!
Michael "Rhino" Whitfield
Updated 09:10 - 7 Nov 2018 by Michael Whitfield
Chairman - Barnes RFC