Barnes recover from a big 1st 1/2 deficit - but ...
Park play their get-out-of-jail card to win
After a strong comeback in the second half it may have looked as if Barnes lost this game in the last minute but that's too simplistic. It could also be said to have been lost at many other moments of the game including within the first minute when Westcombe Park kicked their first penalty for the lead after easily dealing with an up-and-under launched by Barnes following the kick-off. After the first score, 2 penalties took the home team well into the opposition half where the put-in at the first scrums were Ref'd not-straight. Fly-half Gordon for Park sent Barnes back to their 22 with the first of many well-judged kicks from hand. From their 2nd line-out Barnes' pack set up a good drive up-field before their ball was kicked out on the full. 'Combe through their 1st line-out not-straight then stole the scrum against the head despite being pushed back. From the scrum they ran well close to touch and got to 7 metres out where the defence got the next put-in. Again the feed wasn't straight and the visitors ran their free-kick; the forwards recycled 4 metres out and prop Kavanagh forced his way over at 10 minutes. Just as easily Gordon converted.
After the restart Barnes made little inroads into the visitors half before they were again on the back foot and Park's momentum continued to get them a line-out 8 metres out. The defence held and won a penalty and then another got Barnes into the opposition 22 for an attacking line-out, but they had that stolen. 'Combe moved up to their 10 metre line wheel they got the put-in and they got a free-kick at the scrum. They ran this and with an exceptional sequence of phases got to the line and over then were adjudged held-up. At Westcombe's 5-metre scrum they were pushed back by Barnes who then got a free-kick then another at Park's next line-out. This again was kicked for an opposition line-out. A couple of errors preceded the visitors' next scrum near half-way. Again the home pack had an advantage yet the visitors advance well from the scrum with a back roe pick-up before the defence forced an error. Barnes kicked the ball out on the full and the Ref. had a lapse giving Park the line-out 7 metres further than from where the ball had been kicked out at the 22. From the line-out the visitors kept the ball tight then Barnes forced a turnover and got the next put-in. This time they were under pressure at the scrum but got the ball away and into touch but not far. Westcombe then tried wider ball before being penalised for not releasing. Barnes kicked for a line-out only to half-way and soon after that lost the ball and Park sent wing Dixon off on a very good run. He kicked over the defence to the line; the defence just got back ahead of Dixon who was penalised for pushing trying to get to the ball.
Barnes did not clear the ball to touch and soon after were penalised 15 metres out. Gordon missed one that we would have expected to get; this not long after the half-hour. From the 22 drop-out Westcombe got the ball wide and immediately broke through only to be stopped by an excellent tackle. Barnes got the ball at the breakdown and cleared to touch just inside their 22. Park's pack set for a drive then were turned over when this went down. This time the home team ran the ball and made yards with good passing and offloads before losing possession at their 22. Park came again with another break out wide before being penalised 6 metres out. The penalty was kicked to touch, still inside their 22; the line-out was thrown too long, the visitors' hooker got the ball on the run and in no time no.8 Flashman was over for the second try after 36 minutes. Park had more of the possession in the last minutes of the half.
Westcombe secured the second half kick-off and recycled the ball close 4 times without advancing before being turned over. Then Barnes recycled the ball well; in fact this was their best sequence of the game so far, with 9 phases before releasing wing Howells to the corner 2 minutes into the half. The conversion was close but not over. Park scored immediately afterwards when Barnes did not deal with the restart and Park lock Clarke made yards with an easy ball before passing to wing Young to touch down 1/2 a minute from the restart. Gordon's conversion was wide. With the benefit of hindsight this can be seen as the second major incident at which Barnes lost the game. A poor pass after the restart gave the home team the first scrum of the second half. Then they were forced into touch just outside the opposition 22. A good kick from Gordon sent Barnes back well into their own half. The Wetlanders threw the line-out not-straight and from the scrum Park attacked down the touchline and an excellent elusive run from Dixon got his team their bonus point try at 9 minutes not far from the posts. Gordon should have converted this; Barnes looked " dead and buried", 22 points behind.
The visitors dealt with the restart and recycled well then lost possession and Barnes recycled well and won a penalty. Centre Hersey made strong thrusts and a second penalty followed at the opposition 22. The kick took the home forwards to their line-out 12 metres out. They set for a drive and moved forward. With their 22 points advantage already in the bank there was no reason for the lack of cool heads that Westcombe were about to displayed. Barnes' drive went down and the opposition lost a prop for 10 minutes. This resulted in an attacking line-out 5 metres out and from that the pack set for a drive; the defence held that then after another close attempt the ball was sent wider and no. 10 Clarke crossed after 14 minutes. Clarke added. Barnes secured the restart and launched an up-and-under then soon forced a turnover. This was immediately followed by a penalty against the visitors. The touch kick took them to their line-out not far inside their opponents' 22. The pack drove to the line from the line-out but the Ref. gave "held-up". From the 5-metre scrum the ball was released wide and this resulted in another 5-metre scrum. At this the visitors were penalised and scrumhalf Fouracre quickly took the ball to the line. This was 5 minutes after the previous try and again Clarke added.
The restart resulted in a line-out for Park 26 metres from the opposition line. Barnes stole this then a chip over was regained and good yards made and they got another man advantage for 10 minutes. The touch kick took them to another line-out inside the visitors' 22. The defence held after the line-out and got the next scrum put-in. Barnes wheeled this and were penalised for it. Park kicked for a line-out then after it kept ball tight and recycled a couple of time before they were penalised for not releasing. Barnes ran this, sending ball wide and sent ball wide to Howells who ran down the touch line to get his second at 27 minutes. The conversion was wide. Barnes secured the restart and again tried an up-and-under; Westcombe dealt with this and recycled tight 7 times. The defence held and got the put-in just outside their 22. Now Park pushed their opponents but Barnes got the ball away and advanced a few yards to an opposition scrum. After that Park were forced well back into their own half while retaining then were penalised in centre field well within kicking range and Clarke levelled the scores at 32 minutes. Park regained their shorter restart and after 2 recycles chipped for territory to touch 15 metres from Barnes' line. The home pack secured their line-out ball and then the ball was kicked over 'Combe's line and hacked on. The visitors kicked it back and after Barnes ran it and recycles twice they were penalised for not releasing. From 11 metres into the half, the kick from replacement Giles was just short. The final error then occurred. The ball was kept in play and kicked but hardly flew; straight into opposition hands 15 metres out. Westcombe recycled tight 3 times then wider and they got to the line. They recycled tight 4 more times getting over but held up. The Ref. went back to a previously given penalty which included Barnes losing a forward for only 1/2 a minute not 10. Giles now kicked the winning 3 points before the whistle.
Dry and bright with a fairly strong blustery wind blowing across the pitch.