Five tries to one – against Barnes
Barnes well-beaten for the first time this season (at Tring, Barnes lost by conceding 6 kickable penalties).
In the wet conditions the ball must have been like a bar of soap and the visitors seemed to have much more trouble with that than the home team. Kicking from hand Elthamians always had the better of Barnes, often returning kicks much longer. Barnes’ three-quarter line seemed to not have had a run all day and generally, the league leaders before this match could not manage any continuity.
Elthamians secured the visitors' kick-off and returned it to touch into the other half; before the line-out was thrown they were awarded a free kick which they ran and soon got a penalty 14 metres out in centre field and inside 2 minutes Tom White took the 3 points. They secured the restart and quickly advanced to get their put-in at the first scrum 5 metres into the other half. Barnes were penalised at this and Old E's kicked for a line-out 18 metres from the try-line. At the ruck after this they were penalised then Barnes touch-kick didn't gain much ground. From their line-out the visitors launched an up-and-under and regained to advance to halfway before the defence forced an error to get their scrum. After that they had a kick charged down and this was immediately followed by a penalty against the visitors. A good kick took them 20 metres into the opposition half then from their line-out they let their backs have the ball and after a couple of passes, with the fullback White coming into the line, wing Smith touched down at the corner without much difficulty at 10 minutes. The conversion was wide. Again Elthamians kicked the restart back but now Barnes went forward to get their first penalty not far into the opposition half. Their kick took them to 12 metres out. Their drive from the line-out went down and after the ball was recycled they got a penalty 9 metres out which Gower kicked at 15 minutes. Old E's kicked the restart short and into touch; Barnes threw the line-out not-straight. Elthamians got the ball away wide from the scrum then sent a very good kick into touch 8 metres from their opponents' line. The visitors got a penalty after their line-out and kicked that to touch. From the line-out they recycled a few times before being turned over on the ground then Old E's kicked out on the full. From this line-out Barnes kept ball tight to win another penalty 18 metres into the opposition half. The pack set for a drive and made good yards then scrumhalf Reeves went round close to touch and fed no. 8 Taylor who crossed at the corner before 23 minutes to level the scores at 8-all. The conversion was wide.
Barnes secured the restart and kicked it back ahead; it was returned with interest to touch 9 metres from their line. The visitors set up another good drive from their line-out; this went down at their 22 and they kicked over. Old E's soon dropped the ball to give Barnes a scrum near halfway. They kicked but had that returned with interest then got the next put-in still in their own half. Three kicks followed resulting in a line-out for the home team with no advance by either side from the previous scrum. Elthamians now kept ball in hand and recycled a few times to get a penalty 11 metres into Barnes' half near centre-field; White kicked for the lead just before the half-hour. Old E's secured the restart and recycled three times before kicking. Barnes recycled once then kicked and this was cleared to touch near halfway. The line-out was thrown too long by Barnes and Old E's got it. They recycled once tight then got ball wide for a very good run almost to the line. The visitors got back to halt this and get a line-out 5 metres from their own line. Their pack set for a drive then the ball was recycled three times then had a kick charged down; they regained possession close to their line and kicked after recycling once. Elthamians dealt with the kick, recycled at the breakdown then scored their second try with a good passing sequence which fully stretched the defence to create a clear overlap and was finished by replacement Hosken near the corner at 36 minutes. A very good conversion from White made the lead 10 points. The game was halted after that for 6 minutes for an injury to one of the Elthamian players who needed an ambulance. Two kicks followed the restart before an Elthamians' line-out well into the opposition half. They kicked high into the 22 where this was marked by Barnes then kicked to touch but only just outside the 22. Old E's varied their recycling before kicking there were two more kicks before the halftime whistle. The half was less than 40 minutes. Elthamians 18 - 8 lead matched their possession and territory and was also consistent with the number of errors made; Barnes seemed to lack composure in the playing conditions.
Barnes secured the second half restart then had a kick returned with interest. This was dropped by the visitors and advantage was played and Old E's chipped over. Barnes had a kick charged down but got the first scrum of the half inside their 22. Three kicks followed the put-in; the last from Barnes' fly-half took them to their line-out at the opposition 22. Their pack tried to drive and when this went down early they got the next put-in. Elthamians forced a turnover not long after the scrum and kicked well for territory to another opposition scrum still in Old E's half. From this Barnes' Taylor made a break to get a penalty 32 metres out near centre field at 5 minutes. Gower's kick hardly gained any height and was well short. Elthamians kicked the 22 drop-out long; the visitors kicked well to touch but a defender took a quick throw-in and Old E's cleared to touch just outside their 22. Barnes tried to get a drive going but the defence was very good and got a scrum put-in further up-field. Now Barnes stole this against the head but they were turned over after two recycles and were sent further back. An accidental high tackle gave Old E's penalty that got them out of their half. From the line-out their forwards recycled twice before scrumhalf Dejager gave wing Bennett a perfectly timed pass on the blind side to send him 30 metres unopposed to the line at 12 minutes. The not-difficult conversion missed.
Elthamians secured the restart and cleared to touch. After the line-out and four recycles Barnes dropped the slippery ball then put their opposite numbers under pressure at the scrum outside the 22. The home team got another put-in inside their 22. From this they kicked for territory and the visitors dropped the catch. From this third scrum they were forced backwards to their line-out back well into their own half. They kicked from this; the visitors kept ball in hand but were forced into touch at the same place as the previous line-out. Immediately after this line-out Barnes got a put-in and advanced from that to get a penalty 17 metres out after several recycles mostly close. They kicked for a line-out 5 metres out but could not keep the ball at that. Old E's kicked and a Barnes' error then gave the home team a scrum 6 metres into their own half. From that, centre Lewis for Old E's made a good break, more yards were made after a recycle then the visitors were penalised 15 metres out. They ran this and Squires was quickly over near the posts after 25 minutes and White converted.
The short restart went into touch near the opposition 10 metre line. Elthamians kicked out on the full after it. A tap from the line-out was dropped by Barnes' no. 9. Old E's kicked for territory; Barnes kept ball in hand recycling twice before dropping. From the scrum Elthamians kicked to touch well into the opposition half then stole the line-out. They recycled and retained through several phases before being turned over but the visitors immediately knocked on giving the opposition an attacking scrum in the 22. They advanced blind from that then the ball was recycled to prop Thirion who dived and slid over to score from a few yards out after slipping tackles at 32 minutes. White added. The restart was secured and kicked very high; Barnes dealt with that and kicked to touch 27 metres from Old E's line. From the line-out the home team were soon back in the other half after kicking to touch. The visitors recycled well to get a penalty and a man advantage for the last 5 minutes. They kicked for a line-out in the 22 and from that advanced to get a scrum 5 metres out. Ball was dropped at centre. Elthamians cleared to touch after their scrum then got tapped ball from Barnes' line-out, but they were immediately penalised. The visitors ran the penalty but dropped the ball after one recycle. Old E's kicked it away; Barnes ran it back, this time well and made good yards but were turned over after six recycles. Elthamians kicked the ball into touch for the final whistle.
The Ref.'s assessor though the result was just due to Old Elthamians "wanting it" more.
There was drizzle throughout the game, on a rather soft, sloping pitch after earlier heavier rain, under a grey sky with a little wind at pitch level.