Another strong second half
Great comeback with the opposition tiring from relentless 80 minutes from Barnes
The home team kicked off and regained when Barnes didn’t deal with it cleanly. They got to the 22 then passed forward and the Ref. went back to give Stortford the put-in for the first offence. They kept ball in hand to get to the 22 again and another scrum there, after a pick-up by their no. 8 McCraith and advance by him then two recycles. From the second scrum they recycled well several times then centre Stocker broke clear through the line and a long overhead pass created space out wide for wing Harris to round the last defender. This after 3½ minutes and a good conversion by Coleman from wide-out followed. Stortford got ball wide from the restart and fullback Winter ran into the other half before the first penalty was conceded by the attacking side. The visitors kicked for a line-out at the opposition 22. The defence forced an error and got their third put-in. Barnes’ no.9 hassled his opposite number at the base of the scrum but got penalised. Stortford kicked for a line-out then were prevented from advancing but did get another. From this they did advance with a half-break then recycling twice before kicking diagonally ahead. The fullbacks exchanged kicks resulting in a second penalty for the home team on 10 minutes, 5 metres into the opposition half in centre field. Coleman kicked this and Barnes were 10 – 0 down and had hardly touched the ball.
The fourth penalty went against Stortford in possession soon after the restart. Barnes kicked for a line-out just outside the opposition 22; they recycled well but the defence was also good and forced an error to gain possession. Kicks were exchanged resulting in a Stortford line-out outside their 22. After the line-out another two kicks were exchanged then the home team got another attack going ending with a kick which was returned to touch for an attacking Stortford line-out. This was followed by excellent varied recycling confronted by good defence and Coleman tried a drop-goal from 40 metres out which was just wide towards the end of the first quarter. Stortford dropped the 22 drop-out giving Barnes a scrum near halfway. The Ref. played advantage at a third Barnes’ error but the advantage was wasted with three kicks resulting in a Barnes’ line-out 20 metres into Stortford’s half. This was redeemed by stealing a line-out for the first time. Three more kicks preceded a Barnes’ line-out near half-way; from this scrumhalf Reeves made 20 metres then Stortford forced a turnover and got a put-in just outside their 22. A back row pick-up error gave Barnes the next one and a free-kick at that. No. 8 Taylor ran it and after three recycles fly-half Williams-Davies chipped through the defending three-quarter line towards the corner; a covering defender just got there first and pushed the ball into touch. This, of course, was penalised. The visitors kicked for a 5-metre line-out from which their pack rumbled over with prop Burgess touching down at 24 minutes. Gower's excellent conversion reduced the gap to 3 points.
The restart resulted in a Stortford scrum from which they released wide before giving away a penalty. The visitors kicked for a line-out but had that stolen. Stortford gave away another penalty and this was kicked for another line-out. An opposition error gave them they next scrum near halfway. The no. 9’s interacted at the base but this time the penalty went to Barnes. The penalty kick didn’t find touch; Stortford kicked then the visitors kept ball in hand through a few recycles before trying a chip through the line. Stortford dealt with this and kicked again. Barnes ran this back but were penalised at the breakdown at the opposition 10 metre line. Now Stortford kicked for a line-out and set for a drive from long range and won another penalty 28 metres out. Repeating, their pack drove over from the line-out 6 metres out with hooker Caulfield on the ball after 34 minutes. The not-difficult conv hit post and stayed out. Stortford kicked back the restart high and forced an error from Barnes to get a put-in near half-way. They passed forward after a short advance; kicks were exchanged after Barnes’ scrum then the visitors got an attack going with varied recycling. Then Williams-Davies, confronted by Stortford lock Irving, appeared to pop the ball forward into the lock’s hands. With Barnes having been attacking in Stortford’s half, Irving was quickly away and must have run 30 metres before being caught. He got a pass away and one more pass was got to Winter who crossed wide out; the conversion missed. The whistle went with Barnes now 13 points adrift. In that first half the visitors were pressurised into making lots of errors.
Barnes launched the second half with a high kick; Stortford dealt with this comfortably and immediately broke out at centre with an excellent run similar to the one that got them their first try. Stortford recycled close to Barnes' line and one of their forwards got to the line and appeared to pat the ball down over the line but with no control over it immediately after and the unsighted Ref. could not see that it was a try and judged that he had lost possession. Barnes got a 5-metre scrum. This may have been a turning point in the game for it could have made the score 27 – 7; and the game certainly did change then. Under pressure at the scrum, the visitors cleared to touch outside of their 22. From their line-out the Bishops attacked again and Barnes gave away a penalty defending. This was reversed for stamping. The kick was long but did not find touch; Stortford ran it but were immediately turned over. Barnes then kicked towards touch and got a line-out at the opposition 22. They had that stolen and the ball was cleared to touch but only just outside the 22. From the second line-out the visitors set for a forward drive. This soon went down and ball was released to centre and caught the defence offside. Gower kicked an easy 3 points 5 minutes into the half.
Now Barnes broke out immediately from a restart; after it was secured Reeves kicked over and ball was hacked on to the line. The defence touched down for a 22 drop-out. This was long and the visitors kicked it to touch still in their own half. Stortford kicked the ball out on the full after their line-out but then stole the opposition line-out but didn't get far before dropping the ball and giving Barnes a put-in at halfway. The visitors kept ball tight to get another penalty but again that kick didn't go into touch. Kicks were exchanged resulting in a line-out for Stortford 15 metres from their line. From that they then kicked to touch, still in their half. The visitors released wide and the opposition were penalised at the breakdown. Barnes kicked for a line-out 11 metres out. Stortford stole that then Barnes were offside charging down a Stortford kick. The penalty kick didn't find touch; Barnes ran the ball but soon dropped it. At the scrum Barnes were awarded a free-kick which they ran and passed forward without much advance. After this scrum Barnes forced a turnover at centre then were immediately awarded a penalty; this at 14 minutes and Gower kicked the points from long range. Two more kicks after the restart preceded a Barnes' line-out at their 22. The visitors' scrumhalf kicked for territory; Stortford ran and recycled to get a penalty. The kick got them just into the other half but they threw their line-out not-straight. From that scrum Barnes’ varied recycling spread the defence and fly-half Williams-Davies went through the line to feed his hooker Alteirac who did what he has done before with a strong finish near the posts after 17 minutes. Gower added.
Barnes secured a long restart but then had a kick over charged down by an opposition forward. He got the ball and trundled almost to the line where he was stopped by a powerful tackle. This turned out to be a very bad injury to the ball carrier and there was a long delay while he was attended to and stretchered off. Play was restarted with an attacking 5-metre scrum. The defence forced a penalty after that and kicked for a line-out 5 metres inside their half from which their pack drove well for 20 metres. After the ruck Barnes recycled four times before centre Dunlop broke through; two more recycles got them a penalty inside the 22 in centre field and Gower kicked that for the lead at 23 minutes. The restart resulted in a Barnes' scrum; following this kicks were exchanged to the visitors' disadvantage but their line-out inside their 22. From there they advanced into the other half to get another penalty. This was kicked for a line-out 27 metres out. Their pack then set for a drive and when this went down the Ref. awarded a kickable penalty inside the 22 just before the half-hour and Gower couldn't miss. Barnes secured the restart and tried an up-and-under which Stortford dropped near halfway. After the scrum Barnes put the ball into touch outside of the opposition 22 and stole a line-out, for a change. Barnes recycled but were prevented from advancing then the defence got loose ball and kicked it ahead. From fullback Gower ran this back and Stortford were penalised at the breakdown. With 5 minutes to go he took 3 more points to go 9 ahead. The visitors kicked back the restart and this time Stortford kept ball in hand. They recycled well and got a good attack going only to be penalised for crossing. Naturally Barnes kicked for another line-out but still in their own half. After the line-out and two recycles prop Burgess made yards; this led to the last penalty for Gower to convert a minute before the end. Stortford did not score in the second half. Two chances didn’t go their way but they certainly did tire towards the end with Barnes’ penalties coming from their frustration.
Pitch looking good - soft on top but firm underneath, overcast, cool-ish, no breeze.