At Westcombe Park
Barnes win first game by 4 tries to 3, plus 4 penalty kicks to 2.
The home team kicked off and regained; they recovered a dropped ball then soon passed forward. Barnes got two scrums in succession outside of their 22 and at the second 'Combe were awarded a free-kick before the put-in. Their pack ran this to get a penalty at the base of their ruck just inside the 22 in centre field. The points were kicked by fly-half after 2 minutes. Barnes now regained their restart, went blind and were forced into touch; Park kept ball tight to get their 2nd, possibly dubious, penalty. This was kicked for a line-out just into the other half. From the line-out they released to centre; used a forward once then got a good three-quarter move going with a loop-around and put fullback Nattrass through the line with only his opposite number, Gower, to beat. He was stopped in his tracks and Barnes got a put-in 10 metres out. Westcombe Park exerted pressure at this scrum and Barnes just got the ball away and kicked high. They regained then were turned over. Park got ball wide then put together a very good sequence of phases but not advancing. They got their first scrum 8 metres out when the ball was declared unplayable. The defence forced an error to get their scrum 5 metres out and cleared to touch just outside their 22. From their line-out Park released to centre then were penalised for crossing. The visitors kicked for a line-out at halfway.
Releasing to centre from that a pass was judged forward then Barnes were dubiously penalised at the scrum. Park kicked for a line-out 15 metres out. They kept ball tight but the defence again forced an error and got ball wide to Wilde who got just outside the 22 and the visitors got the next scrum. From it they kicked high from centre; 'Combe dealt with that and got through the first tackle. They were soon turned over but the visitors got no further; the result was a Park line-out 9 metres into the opposition half. The outcome of that was a Barnes' scrum at the same place and 'Combe were penalised at that. This was kicked for a line-out just outside their opponents' 22. Ball was sent wide then recycled wide twice more before Westcombe were penalised 23 metres out in centre field after 16 minutes and Gower levelled the scores. This signalled the end of a period of early dominance, mainly from the home team's forwards, during which Barnes' defence had performed excellently.
Park restarted high and knocked on at the take giving the visitors a scrum. Ball was got to centre then recycled and kicked into the opposition 22. 'Combe ran it only to be penalised for not releasing 17 metres out before the end of the first quarter Gower went further back to improve the angle and kick for the lead. Lock Chance took the restart to set up good ball which Barnes got wide then kicked for territory. Park's forwards kept the ball in hand until an error was forced to give the visitors another put-in just inside their opponents' half. From the scrum they advanced to get another penalty 3 minutes after the last one. Gower's kick was just wide. Westcombe kicked the 22 drop-out long; Barnes ran it back, recycling 3 times, to one metre short of halfway where they were penalised. From there Giles tried for the three points but his kick was well short and the visitors cleared to touch. From the line-out, Nattrass made yards but the defence was good and got a scrum put-in inside their 22. Park were penalised at that but the kick didn't find touch and the home team now threw the ball about in their own half before Barnes forced another error. Two more alternating scrums with a forced error in between preceded a 'Combe line-out at their own 22. This was thrown not-straight then Barnes were forced backwards after their put-in then penalised. Park kicked for a line-out to get out of their half for the first time in a while. Their attack broke down with a penalty for not releasing. Now Barnes kicked just into the other half for a line-out after which outside centre Jones broke through the line on an excellent run and the ball was recycled 10 metres out and got out to Wilde who crossed near the corner after 36 minutes. Gower's conversion was first class.
Westcombe regained their high restart then dropped possession 27 metres out. Barnes cleared to touch and when the line-out was thrown long Givens got to it first setting up a Barnes' attack. This was stopped by a turnover then Park lost possession after starting a counter-attack and the halftime whistle went with the visitors 10 points ahead.
Barnes kicked the second half into play and a poor kick from 'Combe gave them a line-out inside the opposition 22. Their three-quarters stretched the opposition defence and fly-half Williams-Davies chipped to the corner to get a 5 metre line-out for Barnes. From that the pack drove over wide out with flanker Smyth on the ball just couple of minutes into the half. Gower's conversion hit the bar and stayed out. Kicks followed the restart resulting in a line-out for the visitors at their 10 metre line. From it they kicked for territory into touch into the other half. They were penalised after that line-out and Park put the ball into touch in the opposition half for an attacking line-out. They kept ball in the forwards to win a penalty on Barnes' 22 and ran the ball. This resulted in the visitors losing a second row for 10 minutes and Giles kicked the 3 points at 9 minutes. Barnes restarted long, 'Combe kicked high and regained but soon lost possession giving Barnes a scrum 5 metres into Park's half. They were penalised at that and Park ran the penalty and centre Hough got clean away wide for an excellent solo try after 12 minutes. The conversion was wide.
Barnes restarted long; after a short run five kicks were exchanged, the last being a chip over and regain by Park. They tried another chip only to find themselves on the back foot as Jones went through the line and an offload got the ball to wing Wehbe who outpaced the defence to get to the corner after 16 minutes. Gower added to double the lead. The visitors secured the restart; kicks were exchanged. An isolated Westcombe defender with the ball was caught by several Barnes players but the penalty went the other way. The kick got the home team into the other half but little further. Barnes got the next scrum and Gower sent the ball into touch inside the opposition 22. From the line-out Park worked their way well back into the other half before being penalised. The opposition kicked for a line-out 27 metres from Park's line. Their pack then drove 20 metres with the ball; the defence held to get the put-in 6 metres out. Barnes were penalised for wheeling and 'Combe kicked for touch, still in their own half. The line-out resulted in a Barnes' scrum from which the visitors kept ball in hand and won a penalty. They ran this one to get another 17 metres out in centre field and Gower took the points early in the final quarter.
Park restarted high; the visitors kicked the ball long to the opposition line resulting in a 22 drop-out. This was kicked long; Barnes' centre Lewis, Wehbe then flanker Beckett ran it back at them, resulting in Park getting the put-in 30 metres from their own line. Despite the visitors putting pressure on the opposition pack, Park got a free-kick at the scrum. They ran this to get a penalty on halfway plus another ten metres from the referee. This was kicked for a line-out 15 metres out. 'Combe's pack got to 3 metres out then the ball was released to the backs with wing Davies coming into the line from behind to touch down behind the posts at 27 minutes. Giles added.
Barnes responded swiftly; the visitors kicked the restart long then Park kicked the ball out on the full. From the line-out, 28 metres out, Barnes' pack set for a drive and rumbled into the 22 and on. Second scrumhalf Henry took the ball from the back, sneaked around the side and fed Williams-Davies who scored at the posts before the half-hour. Gower added. Westcombe Park responded well; the opposition were penalised at the take of the restart. They kicked for a line-out 11 metres from Barnes' line. The defence forced them back but conceded another penalty which was kicked for a similar line-out. From that they kept the ball in the forwards then hooker Pankhurst broke off and nearly got to the line and reached over for the try after 33 minutes. Giles converted. Barnes kicked the restart long; Park kept ball in hand to get a scrum outside of their 22 then a free-kick was awarded against them before the put-in. The opposition opted for another scrum. From that they advanced into the 22 to another. Soon after 'Combe were penalised 15 metres out and Gower went back further to improve the angle and slot the final 3 points with less than 2 minutes to go. Park kicked the restart high and Barnes put the ball into touch for the final whistle.
Conditions: dry, warm and bright yet overcast with a light variable breeze across the hard pitch.