Westcombe Park RFC 10 -51 Barnes RFC
Barnes prolong Combe's woes despite some encouraging signs
Before the match started a 2 minute silence to commemorate the fallen in all conflicts was scrupulously observed by all players, officials and spectators.
To some extent the score line flatters Barnes but, if truth be told, they fully merited the win taking advantage of tired Combe minds in the last 15 minutes. Combe had kept it reasonably close well into the final quarter but, although hearts and bodies were still willing, the same cannot be said of minds as the home side's concentration wavered allowing Barnes to score four answered tries. There were a couple due to interceptions and one when Combe left the ball unprotected at the base of a ruck letting Barnes pinch it and run in unopposed.
Barnes had opened the scoring on a windless afternoon with a penalty when WPRFC had strayed offside. Combe soon pressed the visitors back and a highly impressive 20 metres drive was finished off by flanker Fox being bundled over the line by his cohorts. Scrum half Zanirato slotted the conversion to give Combe a 7-3 lead. Returning home side prop Porter was showing excellent leadership qualities and new number 10 Robinson was kicking deep to maintain pressure on the visitors. After a number of phases in the Barnes 22 Combe were awarded a penalty for Barnes insubordination and Zanirato cannoned the ball in off an upright to extend the lead to 10-3. Sad to say this was Combe's last intervention on the scoreboard and despite some strenuous efforts they were to remain scoreless for the remaining 65 minutes.
The visitors returned to the attack and, from a 5 metre scrum, got due reward for their efforts as the ball passed through several pairs of hands before the touchdown which was converted by Wicks to bring the scores level. Combe full back Bateup put in a couple of big hits to forestall Barnes pressure and, when winger Birch was taken out following a Garryowen, Combe then drove the ensuing line-out ball an impressive 25 metres before being turned over and conceding a pressure relieving penalty to the visitors. As half-time approached, Combe fell foul of their too common failing of allowing concentration to drop in anticipation of the whistle. One missed tackle was all Barnes needed to exploit a gap and secure a 17-10 lead at half-time.
As the new half got underway, prop Jamie Forsyth made a good catch and ran directly at the Barnes defence. A promising move was halted by a deliberate Barnes knock on but the penalty was missed. With 45 minutes gone Barnes extended their lead following a half dozen purposeful thrusts in the Combe 22 and crossed on the right for a converted try. WPRFC 10-22 Barnes RFC.
Combe's scrum had been exerting its strength all game but to no clear reward as Barnes no 8 Napier exploited the new Laws to the full, tidying up a heap of scrappy ball at the base of a retreating pack. This all helped the visitors negate any Combe pressure and on the 56 minute mark Barnes increased their lead when Combe held on in the tackle bang in front of the posts making the 3 points a formality. WPRFC nearly narrowed the gap when winger Bryan Young, making a hugely welcome return after 30 months out of the game due to serious injuries, stormed through the centre only to be hauled down as he entered the visitors' 22. Combe continued to press pretty hard but then came the first of the interceptions with the Barnes winger streaking 90 metres to secure the try bonus point. Despite stout Combe hearts there ensued another 3 tries for the visitors for them to finish up worthy winners by 51 points to 10.
There are some positives for Westcombe Park to take form the day; a much improved kicking game, an increasingly powerful driving maul and above all those stout hearts.
Westcombe Park RFC: Bateup, Saffery, Dowding, Bonner D, Birch, Robinson, Zanirato, Porter, Bonner J, Forsyth, Calohard, Christopher, Scott, Fox, O’Sullivan.
Replacements: Saunders, Clarke, Young
Barnes RFC: Wicks, Martey, Cornish, Butler, Scott, Williams, Reeves, Ryan, Alteirac, McArthur, Cody-Owen, Collins, Harbison, Van der Pol, Napier.
Replacements: Symonds, Blamire, Foster.
Match referee: J. Hill