Match Report: TWRFC 22 – 21 Barnes

Wells have enjoyed some heady days in the past few weeks in RFU London and SE Premier beating Sidcup, Westcliff and Guildford in the process. This game featuring Barnes in 4 th place and Wells in 5 th would be a real test of the town side’s pedigree as they sought a first ever win against the SW London side.

Only one change to the squad as Mac Popham replaced the injured Hayden Pengelly and great conditions underfoot gave the chance of a very close and competitive game.Wells enjoyed the slope in the first half but were behind after 9 mins as almost total Barnes possession saw fly half Gareth Williams- Davies turn a penalty into points 0-3..However, whenever Wells did manage to gain possession they looked dangerous and from a move into the Barnes half Christian Earle received a great offload from hooker Luke Hawkins and took off on a 40 metre diagonal to the posts with no one from Barnes looking likely to stop him. Frank Reynolds converting 7-3 after 12 minutes.

Barnes continued to control possession enjoying a 70% plus share and despite valiant tackling from the Wells back row and particularly from Mike Hathaway and Dave Allen the pressure began to tell.  This pressure culminated in tries after accurate recycling for Barnes in the 26 th and 29th minutes as first second row Jamie Collins wet over on the left for an unconverted try and fly half Gareth Williams- Davies followed on the right and converted his try three minutes later to give the visitors a7-15 lead.Wells continued to chase the ball which was well protected by Barnes but were unlucky not to score as halftime loomed as Dave Allen put in a 40 metre surge to within 5 before being stopped and penalised for holding on. Frank Reynolds  also hooked a penalty wide as both sides went in at half time with Barnes still holding a 7-15 advantage.

If Wells were to fight back in the second half they would need to get more ball, and tidy up their line out as they played up the hill. Unfortunately for them it was Barnes who scored their third try as they opted to scrum from close to the Wells line and marched them over as No 8 and skipper Alex Hind got the score and Williams- Davies converting to stretch the lead to 7-22 after 44 minutes.

Wells continued to show determination and physicality in defence with Shaydn Osgood and Mike Doherty putting in some big tackles but things got worse as Blaise Salle was sent to the sin bin for taking a Barnes player in the air. Remarkably though this was the signal for the Wells to summon the form of the last three weeks. At the centre of this was skipper and scrum half Chas Spence who single handedly for a 15 minute period took the game by the scruff of the neck as his forwards started to provide more ball. On 55 minutes Spence broke from a ruck chipped over the top into the big dead ball area and won the race for the try converted by Reynolds 14-22. Ten minutes later Spence repeated the dose as he broke again put in a grubber kick and again won the race with Reynolds converting 21-22 on 65 minutes.

Back to 15 men and with more ball Wells pursued the win for the last 15 minutes opportunities came and went. Mike Hathaway put in a huge tackle to dislodge the ball and Spence went for his hat trick only being beaten by inches, two penalties to the corner had the Wells supporters wondering whether a penalty or a drop goal might have been an option. Sadly those elusive points didn’t quite come although it was a mighty close thing as the home side had to make do with a losing bonus point.

Simon Whatling and his support coaches can be proud of his team as they go into the Christmas break with 41 points to their name and a 7 th position. A well earnt rest now before the trip to league leaders Guernsey on the 6 th January.

Roger Clarke.

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