A Great Start to the New Season
A Win, a Bonus Point and an Extra Try - An Excellent Team Performance
From the last time these teams met, more than 20 months ago, Barnes this time fielded 5 players; London Irish 2. For this game Barnes welcomed back 3 players starting for the first time in a league game from long-term injury. Irish had some of their senior club's Academy; Barnes' regulars will recall that several years ago our club had the benefit of the services of some of London Irish Academy players, including the now famous Jonathan Joseph.
Barnes dealt with the visitors' high kick-off and ran the ball in their 22; London Irish soon forced an error to get the first scrum put-in 18 metres out near centre field. From that a no. 8 pick-up going to the short side sent ball through hands to send wing Amadi to get a touch-down at the corner just before being forced out. This a bit after one minute and an excellent conversion from fly-half Englefield followed.
The visitors cleared the restart to touch; Barnes' line-out resulted in an Irish scrum at which their opponents were penalised under pressure. Another scrum was chosen, and following that Irish kicked for territory to touch. Barnes' second line-out was not straight then their under-pressure scrum was penalised. Irish kicked for another line-out, now 29 metres from the opposition line; they released to their backs then they were soon penalised for not releasing. Barnes kicked to the other 10 metre line. From their line-out they made good ground breaking blind before the defence forced an error to get another scrum just inside their 22. This resulted in another penalty for the visitors and the kick took them to 4 metres past halfway. From the line-out they went wide and recycled twice before passing forward back in their half. From this scrum Barnes attacked well with five mixed phases before being penalised 12 metres out. Irish kicked for a line-out at their 10 metre line then kept the ball close advancing strongly with 3 phases before being forced into touch 24 metres ahead. Barnes' captain secured the ball and broke through from the line-out. They recycled with several phases but going backwards before losing more territory from exchanged kicks then cleared to touch just inside their 22. Irish kept the ball tight from their line-out; the defence held and got the next scrum put-in 18 metres out.
This at 18 minutes and the game changed. Now Barnes had the dominant scrum and the pack advanced to get a penalty 3 metres ahead. The kick took them to 4 metres from halfway where their line-out was not-straight. The Irish scrum was pushed back 5 metres; they were not penalised but got another put-in where their previous one down. After being pushed back another 4 metres they were penalised. Barnes kicked for a line-out 14 metres from the visitors' line. They only just secured their line-out then recycled close three times then went wide before right wing Martey broke through out wide to the line and came in closer to the posts at 23 minutes. Fly-half Wicks added.
Barnes secured the high restart and kept the ball for 4 phases before using and regaining an up-and-under. The visitors soon forced a turnover before kicking out on the full from their 10 metre line. Barnes' throw was not-straight to the opposition side and Irish got it before they were turned over. There was a period of fairly chaotic play with not much continuity from either team but Barnes going forward then chipping into the opposition 22 forcing Irish to clear to touch less than 6 metres from their line. The visitors got the line-out then were turned over again. Following 4 close phases the Ref. went back to penalise Irish 7 metres out in centre field. The opposition chose a scrum; that popped up and was reset; the home team's pack slowly advanced to the posts and their no. 8 picked up near the line and pushed the ball onto the line. An opposition touchline supporter shouted that he had knocked it on and the Ref. went to ask his assistant who agreed (at the end of the match the no.8 insisted to the Ref. that he hadn't).
Although under pressure at their 5 metre scrum, Irish held and got a penalty 3 metres out that was kicked to touch at their 22. After a long injury to one of the visitors' props, Barnes were awarded a free-kick from the line-out and ran the ball. Following 6 close recycles the ball was recycled wider to fullback O'Toole in the line and he sent a long pass out to left wing Scott who touched down at the corner after 36 minutes. An excellent conversion from the fly-half followed.
Barnes soon returned the restart with an up-and-under; the visitors dealt with this and kept the ball close for 3 phases before sending the ball wide. After another 2 close recycles to the blind side near the opposition 10 metre line they were turned over. Soon Barnes' fly-half kicked for territory and this was followed by a penalty against the visitors 12 metres inside their half near centre field. Wicks was asked to kick the 3 points yet missed. The half-time whistle went 2 minutes later.
London Irish secured the high second half restart and ran the ball; after one recycle a kick was charged down by the opposition no. 8 who got to the ball to touch down near the posts at 30 seconds. The fly-half, who as previously mentioned had converted twice from the touchline, missed again from almost straight on. For most of the next 20 minutes the visitors seemed to be having much the better of the play without scoring.
Barnes soon kicked back the restart to the other half; the visitors cleared to touch 5 metres outside their half. From their line-out Barnes kept the ball for 4 phases before chips were exchanged resulting in a scrum for the home team 7 metres into the opposition half. Irish were pushed back and penalised and the kicked sent them back to defend a line-out just outside their 22. Barnes advanced with 3 phases before the defence forced an error to get a put-in 15 metres out at which they were awarded a free-kick. This was followed by their line-out at their 10 metre line, their penalty after being forced back then another line-out at the opposition 10 metre line. From that they advanced to get a another penalty 28 metres from the opposition line which they ran. Next their chip went into touch off an opposition player 19 metres from Barnes' line. From the line-out they were forced into touch at the same place then won a turnover soon after the line-out. With wider play and 4 phases they got a penalty at the opposition 10 metre line. The kick took them to 18 metres out and their line-out was followed by a Barnes' scrum at the 22. From this they soon kicked long; Irish chipped over and regained then advanced strongly. After advancing again with 4 mostly wide recycles they were turned over. Barnes ran the ball in their 22 but soon lost possession; Irish chipped over to touch then Barnes threw a quick line-out and kicked for territory. The visitors ran the ball before being penalised 16 metres into their opponents' half. The kick gained 29 metres but the line-out was stolen. London Irish went wide then wide again to get another penalty 18 metres inside their half and a man advantage for 10 minutes. The kick took them to halfway and from this line-out they sent the ball widest through hands. Earlier opposition try-scorer Martey read a telegraphed pass and intercepted to run to the posts at 21 minutes. Wicks added.
Barnes secured the restart then kicked out on the full 27 metres from their line. From the line-out the visitors soon chipped through; Barnes ran the ball in their 22 and Irish forced an error to get a scrum 18 metres out. After an injury break the ball was released from the scrum to inside centre Cunningham
who went to the posts after 24 minutes. Englefield added.
Irish secured the restart and soon tried an up-and-under; Barnes dealt with this but were turned over just after. The visitors went wide; an error returned possession to Barnes who shortly after that kicked ahead then another error gave the home team a scrum 20 metres from the Irish line. After the pack first kept the ball in the fly-half and the right wing, off his wing, interchanged to send the fullback to the left corner at 28 minutes. The fly-half's conversion from the touchline was perfect.
Barnes used an up-and-under soon after the restart; this resulted in a penalty for them 18 metres into the opposition half and the kick took them to 17 metres out. After 6 close phases, losing possession then regaining it they got a penalty 15 metres out for which they chose a scrum. The ball was kept in then a break off got them to 5 metres out where the defence got a scrum put-in. A no. 8 pick-up and two close recycles preceded a touch clearance to 14 metres from halfway. Barnes had the ball and advanced with 12 mostly close phases before being penalised for crossing 12 metres out after over-elaborate play. The visitors kicked for a line-out 20 metres from halfway; they released to centre and recycled a few times before the whistle.
Warm, more than 90% blue sky, little wind; the pitch solid with the grass green.