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13 Man Barns Green Take Eastbourne To The Line in Bitterly Cold Conditions

In a game that could have been a cricket score, Barns Green pull out a performance of the season.

Rugby team talk barns green rfc

Full Time: Eastbourne 2s: 26 (5) Barns Green: (10) 22

Tries: Van Blerk (3) Cons: Cooper (2) Pen: Cooper (1)

Barns Green showed up to Eastbourne RFC with just 15 players due to last minute illnesses. By the 25th minute they were down to 14 and by the 35th they were down to 13 players and despite a yellow card they continued to battle it out and could have won it in the dying moments of the game.

Eastbourne were coming into this game on a fine run of form battling it out for the top spot whilst Barns Green were looking to continue after their dominant win against Steyning 4 weeks prior.

Much of the first half was played in the middle of the park with neither team managing to get a foothold. It wasn’t until the 30th minute when Eastbourne put some pressure on the BG line to get themselves off the mark.

It was around this time that Barns Green suffered their first injury and with no one on the bench they had to play with 14. Despite this, Barns Green go themselves back down the other end of the pitch to score a try of their own with Jarod Van Blerk crashing over for the first of his three tries.

Not long after, a head injury to George Smith meant Barns Green slipped down to 13 men. Eastbourne were offering players to fill the missing spots, but the Green and Gold politely declined the offer and slotted a penalty on the whistle taking a 10-5 lead at the half.

Rugby kicking at posts
Nick Cooper adding 3 points

“You decide how you react”

It is very easy to allow your head to drop in these moments. You’ve travelled over an hour; the weather is about 1C and you’re down to 13 men against a team who’s sat second in the table. However, this team is different. Time and time again when Barns Green have had their backs up against the wall, they have found strength to not give up and the second half was evident of that.

Eastbourne looked to make the most of their advantage and managed to run in a couple tries only moments into the second half. Everything pointed towards a potential cricket score but Barns Green struck back 5 minutes later with another try from Jarod Van Blerk to keep them within reaching distance.

With the sense that Barns Green had settled down and were playing to the conditions, a yellow card for dissent put them down further to just 12 men against 15. Eastbourne never were able to put the game to bed despite the advantage and Barns Green managed to constantly keep them within striking distance. The game opened up and it looked as if every break could lead to a try for either team if it wasn't for some fantastic last ditch defending. Notably a tap tackle from Matt Sprigge brought down the Eastbourne winger twice who looked a dead cert to run in a couple tries.

Rugby player scoring a try Barns Green RFC
Jarod Van Blerk diving over for one of his 3 tries

With a third try from Van Blerk, Barns Green found themselves only 4 points down with 2 minutes to go and a penalty in the Eastbourne 22. It felt like possibly the Green and Gold could come away with a win despite everything but as the ball went wide, a handling error gave it back to Eastbourne and the ref blew his whistle to bring to an end what was an incredible game.

Bitter Sweet at the Final Whistle

The final whistle bought mixed feelings for the Green and Gold. Although Barns Green played fantastically well and stayed in a game they had no right to stay in, they felt as if they should have and certainly could have won the game. Once the adrenaline had subsided the realisation of what they had achieved became apparent and the losing bonus point could become vital come the end of the season.

Rugby final whistle tunnel

Captain James Dickson couldn’t have been prouder of the boys. With players driving nearly two hours, a couple boys carrying injuries and others changing their plans to ensure the game went ahead was a testament to the mindset of the team. Every single player played their hearts out, no one dropped their heads and the passion and calmness showed against adversity is what makes this small club special.

A moment that defined the resilience and character of this team was when Noah Middleton twice dislocated his finger, ran to the side of the pitch, had it repaired and ran back on and got stuck in to the action straight away. A team with players who have that mentality, it's no surprise that Barns Green pushed Eastbourne to the bitter end.

Barns Green have proved what they are capable of and this game could possibly be the spark to lead a charge on the table. They head back home to welcome Horsham Barbarians in the final game before the Christmas break this Saturday.

Man of the Match

Jarod Van Blerk

Team Sheet

1. Joe Spencer-Smith

2 Paddy Pritchard

3 Danny Conway

4 James Dickson (C)

5 Will Staples

6 Harry Smith

7 Noah Middleton

8 George Smith

9 Tom Bouet

10 Matt Sprigge

11 Nick Lewis

12 Nick Cooper

13 Jarod Van Blerk

14 Bryn Jones

15 Rory O’Reardon-Yeates

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