35 - 7
Barnes Vs. Tunbridge Wells
Hard day at the office for the 1st XV….
Wells five pointer start to life in London and SE last week vs Shelford this game in SW London against a side who have been playing National League 2 Rugby for 3 seasons was a hard dose of reality at this level for Wells.
From the off the home side -back to full strength after last week’s club wedding- showed good organisation and dominance of possession as they established an ascendancy in the line out and scrum in the first 20 minutes which they would never relax. Rolling maul tries by N0 8 and skipper C Smyth on 4 minutes and again by prop T McArthur after 17 mins both converted by fly half C Wicks put Barnes in the driving seat and made it difficult for Wells to get on the front foot.
The closest Wells came to scoring in the first quarter was from the boot of Frank Reynolds who was just short of the posts with a long range effort. Wells also came close down the right when winger Matt Spicer was ankle tapped close to the line after a 20 meter surge and could not get the ball down during a period when a Barnes back row had been sent to the bin. This,however, was a good period for Wells as they achieved close to parity in possession and pushed upfield due to the prompting of half backs Reynolds and Chas Spence.
However, with the Wells line out misfiring and an increasing control from Barnes in the set scrum Wells found it more and more difficult to achieve reasonable possession and when they did tended to kick it away often without advantage. As halftime approached on 38 minutes and after several phases of attack Barnes fullback T O’Toole breached the line at speed and converted his own try under the posts to take the halftime score to 21-0. With the rain coming down heavily from a local thunderstorm much work faced Wells if they were to get back into the game in the second half.
With the rain starting to slacken Barnes started the second half much as the first basing their dominance of possession on scrum superiority and dominance of the lineout where they increasingly stole ball. For all of that the Wells defence in midfield was standing up relatively well with Osgood and McLoughlin getting some good hits in and with wingers Douche and Spicer remaining wide with Taylor – Dennehy sweeping at the back. It was scrum ascendancy which saw the next score as after 4 successive scrums – two as penalty options Barnes drove Wells back over their line for a back row to dive in and for O’Toole to score the conversion for the bonus point try. 28-0 (48 mins.)
Wells entered the last 60 minutes looking to gain a greater share of the ball to get Nick Doherty and the rest of the back row moving forward and to give the backs some ball but the game at this point became more fragmented and when they did have the ball too often it was kicked away with little or no advantage. Credit to Wells that as they suffered a yellow card for a team offence awarded to Chas Dagwell on 60 minutes they were able to up the tempo. However, with Dagwell off and Wells under pressure from a succession of scrums close to the posts (two of which were penalty options), Barnes put on the drive and then released their backs with centre Matt Cornish going over and O’Toole ensuring a 100% record with conversions 35-0.
Unfortunately for Wells Osgood and Thompson clashed heads whilst trying to keep Cornish out and after a 5 minute delay Jake Thompson headed for Hammersmith and Putney hospital with a serious cut to his head. Wells momentarily went down to 13 men as substitutes were sorted out and just as the team thought it was back to full strength with Dagwell back on the pitch Kyle McGarvie was yellow card and Wells remained at 14.
Despite this Wells continued to rally as back row Hayden Pengelly spotted a misalignment in the Barnes defence and went in under the posts for a try converted by Frank Reynolds to make the final score 35-7 to Barnes. Wells return to St Marks with a number of aspects of their game to work on before next week’s visit to the town ground of top of the table Guernsey KO 3-00pm.
However, they can take consolation from a competitive second half performance against strong opposition and which they lost only 14-7 -despite playing one man short for the last 20 minutes of the game- and from their maintenance throughout when the ball went wide of a strong defensive game.
Squad: McGarvie, Hawkins, Crossilla, Lee, Popham, Earle, Dagwell. Pengelly, Doherty , Thompson, Spence, Reynolds, Spicer, Osgood, Mcloughlin, Douche, Newton, Taylor-Dennehy