“Big game this weekend, it will lay down a marker for the rest of the season”
Michael "Rhino" Whitfield
After a rest week last week, this Saturday we entertain high-flying Guernsey at Barn Elms. The islanders are in 4th place, 2 points and 2 places behind Barnes in the London and South-East Premier league. This is a very tough league indeed; I think the top four in this league are as strong if not stronger than the four at the bottom of National League 2 South.
There is now a clear four-way battle emerging at the top of our league between Tring, Barnes, Hertford and Guernsey. I think our season will be defined by this Saturday’s game against Guernsey, and then Tring away the following week. I was talking to the Tring Chairman, Steve Hayes, last week and he remarked on something that I had only just noticed which is that after we play a team Guernsey get to play them the following week, and then Tring the week after. So we do all the hard work, and soften them up! Although that obviously wasn’t the case when Guernsey lost to Guildford the week after we played them recently so it looks as though this theory is total rubbish .
Like us, Guernsey have only lost two games so far this season, the one I referred to earlier against Guildford, and one at Hertford, both away games. At home, they remain unbeaten and look like a very different kettle of fish to try and beat.
The last time we played them was in the 2014/15 season when we won 29-24 at our place, and then convincingly on the return leg 19-40. I would be happy with either of those scores on Saturday!
Westcombe Park 1st XV 10 Barnes 1st XV 51
As I said at the top of this piece, Barnes 1’s had a rest weekend last weekend (and boy did we need it we need it!) and the weekend before travelled to Orpington to play Westcombe Park and won handsomely 10 - 51.
Here is a flavour of how it went: Barnes kicked off in the mud at WP and it was clear from the off that the Kent side were well up for a feisty game. There was as much verbal off the pitch as on it, and it was clear that these boys didn’t like the “posh pussies from poncy West London” as I believe one of the supporters referred to us. It was no less friendly on the pitch, and WP’s aggressive start went well for them, scoring a deserved penalty and then a converted try using the old rolling maul from the line out to great effect (hang on a mo isn’t that our USP?). By that stage we were getting as much abuse from the Punch and Judy front row as we were from the supporters, it was difficult to find a haven from the tirade of insults so the massive throng of supporters hid in a container, and prayed for a full eclipse that might distract the barrackers, and allow us to escape!
At 10-3 down after 20 minutes, and to be honest not playing bad rugby, Barnes began to exert the pressure that we are more than capable of, gaining parity after Dave Butler ran a great line through the centre and then, on the stroke of half-time the muscular, and abrasive, Matt Cornish scored, making the half time scored10-17 to Barnes.
After halftime, WP came hard at us again, hard, but the Barnes D held out, we were calm under the onslaught and then took control for the rest of the game, silencing the WP supporters, along with several of their more vocal players, who had either been subbed, or retired with verbal exhaustion from the gladiatorial arena.
Johan van de Poel rounded off an excellent game to drive through a pack of WP players to score, closely followed by three quick tries: two by the outstanding Robbie Martey, and an opportunist break down the vacant blind-side by Hamish Reeves..
After our 6th try things got a bit tasty with a couple of unsavoury fights breaking out, but the Barnow boys would not yield an inch, and gave as good as they got. In many respects, I think that we have needed a game like this where an opposition felt they could bully us, only for us to get annoyed, and let our rugby do the talking. A seventh try from the excellent Olli Foster sealed the game, resulting in a final score of WP 10 Barnes 51. Definitely our best all round performance of the season, at last. I went warmed by the knowledge that we had reached the level of performance that we achieved at regular intervals last season, despite us being relegated in the end! Charlie Wicks slotted two penalties and five conversions to put the icing on the cake, and seal a win to be proud of.
Other Games Last Weekend
The 2’s travelled to Ampthill last weekend to play Ampthill 2’s. In what was always going to be a tough gig they came second losing 40-7 in the end. They will be looking to bounce back against Esher at the weekend, playing under lights on Friday night on Rosslyn Park’s 4G pitch.
On Sunday, the Ladies were looking to take on Tabard Ladies, for the second time in two weeks at Barn Elms, but this time in the Intermediate Cup not the league game which they narrowly lost. However, Tabard conceded the game as a walkover, whilst the Ladies would have been disappointed not to play they do advance in the Cup!
Friday Night Mayhem - 24th November
There is a double header this Friday, under the lights at Rosslyn Park.
Firstly, there is an Under 10’s and Under 11’s tag festival. Teams are drawn from 12 local schools, and this builds on what we started with these floodlit games last season. This was one of the highlights of last season for the Minis and we are excited to be hosting again. The fun will kick off at 6pm sharp.
The minis schools tournament is the curtain raiser for the 2nd XV who play Esher 2’s under the lights with a 7:30pm kick off, following the Minis Schools Tournament.
Here are the rest of the fixtures for this weekend:
• Barnes 1st XV vs Guernsey - 2pm KO
• Reeds Weybridge vs Occies - 2pm KO
• Barnes Ladies vs Sutton ad Epsom Ladies - 2pm KO
[Good luck to all our teams this weekend, and safe travels for 2's as they travel to Ampthill this weekend.
D come down on Saturday when your Barnes 1st XV take on Guernsey with a 2pm kick off
Onwards and Upwards the Green and Gold!
Michael “Rhino” Whitfield
Updated 03:47 - 22 Nov 2017 by Michael Whitfield
Chairman – Barnes RFC