By Daniel Thomas
This weekend of fixtu5res saw us return to the league and a match up that saw two of the four unbeaten teams up against each other. It was the turn of Barry RFC to travel to Hailey Park and both teams were looking to carry on their good form going into the game.
The North put a big emphasis on starting the game well this week as it has been a bit of an Achilles’ heel so far this season, often conceding points within the first five to ten minutes. Although Barry dominated most of the territory and possession stats for that period, the North’s defence held strong and repelled all that was thrown at it. The forwards ensured nothing came through the middle whilst the backs seemed to have most of the field covered out wide when the ball was given some air. Although the North looked solid in defence they were unable to build any pressure of their own. A combination of being beat at the breakdown and trying too many offloads, whilst support runners were stationary, allowed the visiting team to keep play deep inside the North’s half.
The first score of the game fell to the North after they kept things simple. The forwards ran hard straight lines, keeping hold of the ball and taking it to ground when behind the gain line, which created fast ball that needed to go wide. Unfortunately the North decided to take it one time too many and the opportunity was missed. Fortunately for the North however the referee had penalised Barry for being offside at the ruck. The resulting penalty was kicked into the corner and an effective catch and drive saw them hauled down just shy of the line. The quick footed scrum half, Shaggy, saw a half chance to sneak over on the blind side and crossed after shrugging off the challenges of the covering defenders.
Barry were given the opportunity to strike back straight from the restart. A number of minor mistakes from the North contributed to the chance being created, another reminder of how important it is to stay focused just after scoring. A dismal drop kick saw the ball fall far short of the required 10 meters as the North boys watched on expecting the referee to blow his whistle. The ball eventually bobbled over the 10 meter line from which the lads reacted slowly. The oncoming Barry runners then forced a knock on. From the scrum Barry were awarded penalty which they kicked into the corner. The ball came off the top and went wide; the outside half found a yard of space when taking the ball to the line and managed to break the tackles of the first line defence to go over in front of the sticks. There were no further tries in the game as Barry kicked two later penalties to win the game 13-7. The North had missed a couple of penalties of their own which would have seen the game swing back our way but in truth we didn’t capitalise on many of the opportunities created.
The North were unable to build any real sustained period of pressure during the game as Barry disrupted ball at the rucks and mauls well. Unfortunately we did not enjoy the dominance of the contact area as we would have liked to and the ball often got tied up in contact or turned over by the fast jackaling visiting loose forwards. Towards the end of the game when the North were chasing scores they looked far more dangerous. The game opened up and gaps were being found against the heavier Barry forwards. Some powerful running from the forwards saw both Lewys and Gaggsy run clear on different occasions. On both occasions however the moves broke down and poor handling gave the ball back to Barry when we were in promising positions. As the game opened up the North started to use the backline, without hitting forwards first and tying up the ball, who also enjoyed success out wide. Tristram Woods took a nice short ball off Lloyd Rayer into contact and delivered a neat offload to centre partner Danny Thomas from deep within their own half. From that distance it was obvious Danny T was not going to run the length of the pitch; it was only a matter of time before he got tracked down and tackled whilst still looking around for support. The ball was taken into contact and recycled well as the Barry defence retreated quickly. It was only for some poor handling again which let us down and saw another opportunity wasted.
Next week we have arch rivals Llandaff away. It is imperative that we start finishing off the clear cut chances we are creating. A good time to ensure that happens is next week in a game which will ensure we stay above them in the league.
A big thank you for all those that came out to support us this week, it is hugely appreciated by the lads and hopefully we can give you something to cheer about next week! A big hand to those at the club who help set up the day including groundsmen, caterers, bar staff, coaches and indeed the players!