A much better second half ...
First it should be mentioned that this game was a pleasure for the spectators and for the Barnes' team since Thurrock came to play rugby –
– in contrast to several recent league games when the opposition could only rely on bulk-bashing. In the previous two matches Barnes established a significant lead early on then were outscored by their opponents in the second half. In this one Barnes were only a converted try ahead at half-time then in the next half-hour they built a thirty point lead and towards the end "butchered" two try-scoring opportunities. As Thurrock entered the pitch they looked one of the fitter teams we have faced this season.
The visitors kicked off, Barnes kicked it back; Thurrock chipped to have it kicked back again. After a second chip the Ref went back to award Thurrock a penalty 5 metres inside the opposition half. A good touch kick took them to their line-out 13 metres from Barnes' line. Their pack set for a drive and when this went down they got another penalty then a line-out 5 metres out. When they second drive went down they released to centre Stanley who put the other centre Burcham through from close range near the posts at 3½ minutes. Neale converted. Thurrock kicked back the restart and Barnes cleared to touch in their half. From the line-out the visitors recycled and retained well before being turned over. Barnes then worked their way into the other half where Thurrock got the first scrum put-in. From that they sent the ball wide with the second pass thrown into touch. After this line-out Barnes recycled well before they were turned over. Thurrock launched a good diagonal kick to the wing but fortunately for Barnes it was knocked on. From the scrum Barnes carefully advanced to get a penalty at the opposition 10 metre line. This was kicked for a line-out 17 metres out; the forwards' drive went down 6 metres out and the ball was recycled to inside centre Van Buuren who went to the posts after 13 minutes. Gower added.
Barnes cleared the restart to touch; Thurrock threw the line-out not-straight then Barnes were penalised at the scrum. Surprisingly Neale tried a long-range kick which was just short; Gower returned this with interest into the other half. Barnes got the line-out there but threw it not-straight. Kicks were exchanged after the scrum leading to a line-out for the visitors well into the opposition half. Thurrock got ball wide then it was hacked on to Barnes' line where it was secured for a 22 drop-out. The visitors ran this back well to get a penalty back at their opponents' 22 in midfield and Neale took the points at the end of the first quarter. Thurrock kicked to touch having taken the ball back into their 22 giving Barnes an attacking line-out. The drive broke up; scrum half Reeves went for the line then the Ref. awarded a penalty to Barnes. Again a line-out and drive, which broke up; Barnes' hooker Rogers took a bad knock then there was some action without the ball. The visitors lost a man for 10 minutes, not for the initial incident. A third line-out and drive was halted by Thurrock who got the put-in 7 metres out. Barnes wheeled this but were penalised for it! The visitors kicked to touch and got another penalty and parity in numbers soon after their line-out. They kicked for a line-out into the opposition 22 but threw that not-straight.
They forced a turnover just after the scrum then got their own put-in still in the opposition 22. After 3 recycles Barnes' pack forced a turnover; they kept ball tighter and advanced to get a penalty that was kicked for a line-out at the visitors' 10 metre line. From that, keeping ball close at first they got ball wide to advance strongly then recycling wide again got a penalty 5 metres out and another opponent off the pitch for 10 minutes. They chose a scrum; there was trouble at the back of that but they got another 8 metres out then a free-kick at that which Reeves ran to touch down at 32 minutes. Gower converted. Barnes secured the restart and launched an up-and-under; Thurrock dealt with that and sent ball wide to win a penalty fairly wide out 29 metres from Barnes' line. Instead of going for a line-out and drive, Neale kicked this but it just faded. After the 22 drop-out Thurrock kept ball in hand, recycling well but not advancing, to a line-out for Barnes at the home team's 10 metre line. They forced a turnover after a few recycles backwards by Barnes then got their line-out. There was a knock-on at that giving the defence the put-in. Under pressure in the scrum, Barnes got the ball away then with excellent recycling, mostly tight, worked their way into the other half to get a penalty 11 metres in and in centre field. Gower was asked to kick the points and the whistle went after that.
Thurrock secured the second half restart then kicked over the opposition. They didn't touch the ball again until after Barnes' third try. Reeves made a break then a long pass out wide stretched the defence; four more recycles put the ball in the hands of lock Chance who had been involved in the move earlier. He was in space and went to the line. This took 90 seconds and Gower added. Barnes secured the restart and tried an up-and-under. The visitors now put together a very good sequence of phases, breaking through twice at centre, and finishing with a good chip towards the corner. They regained but the defence held to get a 22 drop-out. The kick went into touch at halfway then from the line-out Thurrock set up another good attack with Stanley prominent and finally chipping through. They regained and got a scrum just outside the opposition 22. Barnes wheeled this to get their own put-in then advance to a Thurrock line-out 6 metres into Barnes' half. From that they again used the ball well, this time mostly tight and using the blind side with the move finishing out wide 14 metres from the opposition line with a scrum to Barnes. From that Reeves tried an up-and-under which got his team a penalty. A terrific kick from Gower went into touch 6 metres from Thurrock's line - more than half the pitch! Barnes' pack set for a drive but this broke up then the visitors were penalised 5 metres out and the Ref. got another card out of his pocket. Surprisingly, this close, on 12 minutes, Gower was asked to kick the points when Barnes' supporters expected the team to go for the bonus point try.
Barnes kicked back the restart to touch; there was a knock-on in the line-out then Thurrock were penalised after the scrum. The next kick got Barnes a line-out 13 metres from their opponents' line. The pack set for a drive but were turned over and the visitors cleared to touch outside of their 22. Barnes sent ball wide from the line-out but the defence held to get their line-out 12 metres out on the other side. This was re-thrown and Thurrock kicked for territory. Gower started the run back; the ball was recycled close 5 times before Williams-Davies made a break and fed flanker Johnson to go to the posts at the end of the third quarter. Gower converted. Thurrock got a put-in at the take from the restart; they advanced a bit from that with wide ball but into touch at the opposition 22. From their line-out Barnes tried another up-and-under that was dropped. Advantage was played; Reeves made a break but possession was lost in the other half. From their scrum Thurrock, from the scrum with some more good recycling, got 4 metres into the other half to an opposition put-in. Now Barnes scored from there; they got ball wide, Riley made 30+ metres then after 2 recycles Bevan made a break and after another recycles Reeves went himself. This at 67 minutes and Gower added.
Thurrock forced a turnover soon after Barnes had secured the restart; they tried wide ball before passing forward at the opposition 22. From their scrum recycled several times to advance to another put-in then another back at the 22 when a near-intercept was knocked down. From this one they broke out of their half courtesy of Riley and Henry before being turned over. Thurrock had the ball for 2 recycles and offload then Barnes got the next scrum put-in still in the opposition half. From that their centre Jones made 30+ metres, getting to 8 metres from Thurrock's line and was well supported yet the result was an opposition penalty. The visitors kicked for their line-out and from that advanced out wide then after a couple of close recycles made another break then kicking ahead on the blind side. Barnes kicked this back and Thurrock again got ball wide and after 4 recycles Stanley went through the line, having been previously involved in the move, then with the defence fully stretched Thurrock flanker Timson scored a "Basketball" try with 7 minutes to go. The conversion was wide. The restart was secured then it was followed by two turnovers. Cook for Thurrock made a half-break which resulted in a penalty against Barnes which was kicked for a line-out at their 22. From it they retained well without advancing to get the next put-in a bit further back. Barnes stole this scrum against the head sending Riley off another good run; he passed to Robertson, on in the back row. The line was begging but the last pass went astray 16 metres out. Barnes were penalised just after the scrum then Thurrock threw their subsequent line-out not-straight. This time Thurrock were able to push Barnes' scrum but the ball was retained and got away and the whistle went with Barnes still trying to attack.
Bright yet almost totally cloudy, breezy, not cold and the forecast rain did not fall; the pitch was quite soft.