Another confident performance from Barnes
Clifton miss out on draw with last kick of the match
Barnes dealt with the visitors' kick-off and kicked for territory. Clifton kept ball in hand and moved it about through 8 phases before they kicked ahead. This was kicked back into the opposition 22 and Clifton cleared to touch 7 metres into the other half. From the line-out Barnes went wide soon kicked; the visitors again kept the ball in hand, recycling mostly close 7 times with a good offload in the middle. After making a break they were then contained and kicked towards touch. Barnes kept the ball close and recycled twice to get the first scrum just inside the opposition half. From it they went wide bringing the fullback into the line. At their second recycle they went wide again and broke through down the touchline. They recycled once 8 metres out then got a penalty 6 metres out that was put into touch for the closest line-out. From this the pack drove for the line and over with flanker Smyth on the ball at 7 minutes. The difficult conversion was wide.
Again Barnes kicked back the restart then forced an error after Clifton had recycled twice. From the scrum they released wide and made yards then recycled 4 times before being turned over. The visitors recycled close 4 times, going blind twice before being penalised for not releasing at their 10 metre line. This was kicked for a line-out 18 metres out; from it Barnes released to centre where the ball was lost in a tackle giving the defence a scrum at their 22. From that kicks were exchanged, the first long, the second an up-and-under, resulting in a Barnes' put-in 8 metres inside their half. The visitors pushed their opponents back to get a penalty at the scrum. This was kicked for a line-out just inside the 22. An attempted drive was held; the ball was recycled through 11 varied phases. After 7 a wing was put through a hole then after 4 more centre Harrison went over before the end of the first quarter. Fly-half MacKay added for the lead.
Two kicks followed the restart then Clifton started a very good passing breakout from their 22. Barnes got the next scrum 12 metres inside their half. Next kicks were exchanged then Barnes' backs had a run, but only as far as 6 metres into the other half. From their scrum the visitors recycled close 4 times before trying an up-and-under. Barnes went wide, recycled once close then went wide again. Their backs opened up the defence swiftly putting the ball through several hands with fullback O'Toole finishing after 25 minutes then adding the conversion.
An error at the restart gave Barnes a scrum 22 metres inside their half; Clifton's pack pushed strongly and got their own put-in 29 metres out. From which they went wide and got a penalty at the next breakdown near centre field. MacKay took the points just before the half-hour.
The visitors kicked back the restart; Barnes kept the ball in hand and put together a set of 8 mostly close phases to get a penalty 18 metres into the opposition half near centre field at 32 minutes and O'Toole kicked the points.
Clifton regained their high restart and recycled 4 times before making a very strong break. After 2 more recycles they were turned over. Barnes went wide and made yards before kicking ahead. Clifton dealt with this and kept ball in hand to get a penalty at halfway after 4 recycles. They ran this and put together their best sequence of phases thus far, 9 in all. This got them another penalty 7 metres out and the ball was taken by prop Giltrow over the line not far from the posts at 37 minutes. MacKay added for the lead. The visitors kept the ball for 5 more phases after the restart until the opposition forced an error for the whistle.
Clifton secured the second half restart and recycled twice close before being penalised 15 metres inside their half. Barnes put the ball into touch 17 metres out then their pack drove for the line from the line-out. They were held twice then got over with Smyth again on the ball after 2 minutes. The conversion missed.
Barnes continued strongly for the early part of the half. A penalty at their opponents' 10 metre line took them to the 22 where they threw the line-out not straight. Clifton were penalised at the scrum and Barnes chose to go for a line-out and drive from 6 metres out. When the maul went down the Ref. gave a penalty try at 16 minutes. O'Toole added.
Barnes did much of the defending during the next 10 minutes. After an opposition attack Clifton broke out; getting the ball into space twice they made yards the second time. This got them a penalty in centre field 26 metres from the opposition line and MacKay kicked the points at 26 minutes
Barnes had the best of territory for the next 5 minutes or so then with 7 minutes to go the visitors got out of their half after Barnes had kicked out on the full. Clifton got another line-out when a kick went into touch off an opposition player. From the second line-out they put together 17 very strong phases before losing the ball in a tackle. Barnes cleared to touch 30 metres out then got the ball when it was thrown past the end of the line-out. They broke out of their half and went on until penalised 12 metres from the visitors' line. Clifton kicked for a line-out on halfway then put together another very good set of 9 phases during which they created an overlap on the blind side for centre Pomphrey to score wide-out. The conversion just missed before the whistle.
Bright, dry and cold; nearly 100% blue sky; a little wind, the pitch still quite soft.