You could be forgiven for thinking that with Barns Green's unfortunate run of results before Christmas, that trend would continue into 2020 but if Saturday’s performance is anything to go by then they may well prove those doubters wrong.
It’s been a long winter break for the Barns Green boys as they head into the second half of the season. Haywards Heath 2nds were the only team they managed to get a win from before Christmas, so this game was a fantastic opportunity to give the team a boost after what seemed an eternity without rugby and they were clearly up for it.
From the kick-off, Barns Green were dominating. Winning the physical battle around the breakdown whilst keeping their composure and the right side of the whistle. As the ball changed hands, Barns Green started to ramp up the pressure and it wasn’t long before Matthew Hoyte broke through the Haywards Heath line with a couple of sidesteps against the drift allowing him to touch down for the days opening try.
With a great start, Barns Green were in the ascendancy. Some fine work from the forwards carrying up allowing Thomas Bouet quick ball to release the backs. However, after a handling error and a couple of penalties, Haywards Heath found themselves knocking on the door for the first time on the Barns Green 5 meter. A catch and drive pushed Haywards Heath over the line only for the ball to be held up by Adam Rice on the wing. Some ill-discipline led to another penalty and lineout for Haywards Heath, but they were unable to repeat their efforts after Barns Green won the line out and cleared their lines.
It didn’t take long for Barns Green to capitalise on the turn over at the lineout. Some very quick ball sucked in the defence before working the ball out to Nick Cooper on the wing. On his first start for Barns Green, he ran down the wing not shying away from the oncoming Haywards Heath defence. He managed to win the collision and get the ball over the line in the corner to put Barns Green up 12 points up.
Barns Green were running high and it looked as if the flood gates could open for them. It certainly felt like this was the case when Tom Smith managed to get the right side of the ball and win a superb turnover. Bouet pounced on the opportunity and put Matt Sprigge into space as the scrambling Haywards Heath defence was unable to reform their lines. Sprigge took the ball and cut past two defenders on a 70-meter sprint to the line for Barns Greens third.
The second half looked to continue the same way as the first however the long winter break started to take its toll. Haywards Heath managed to get back into the game after some errors from Barns Green allowed them to get deep into their territory. However, as it was the same in the first half, Haywards Heath were unable to capitalise on any of their possession or territory as Barns Green shut them out.
The remainder of the second half remained the same as both teams battled it out for territory with neither taking control. However, on the last play of the game, Barns Green managed to break the Haywards Heath lines setting up a 3 on 2. Dan Hill managed to draw the defence and put Nick Cooper in for his second try topping off a man of the match performance on his full debut.
Barns Green will relish in this win and boost their confidence leading into their next fixture against Seaford at home. With some great displays of rugby Barns Green's fortunes may be changing and 2020 might feel a little brighter than they did at the end of 2019.
Cooper - 2
Sprigge - 1
Hoyte - 1
Hoyte - 1