Barns Green have secured the top spot in Sussex Two West undefeated and with a strong points difference. A difficult final game against a gritty opponent in Steyning has given them something to think about during their break.
Barns Green and Steyning came into this battle having already secured promotion to the second stage of the season so some might have believed this would have been a nothing game but from the off, it was everything but.
Wanting to keep their clean record, Barns Green started the game strong. Immediately taking territory and setting up inside the Steyning 22. Steyning were punished for not rolling away a number of times giving Barns Green the momentum to kick for the corner.
Points seemed inevitable but after some unforced handling errors, BG couldn’t get themselves over the line. It wasn’t until the 4th visit to Steynings red zone that the men in Green and Gold were able to take back some points. Fast ball to Fly Half Matthew Hoyte allowed him to step his way through the large Steyning defence dotting the ball down for Nick Cooper to convert the extras.
Barns Green was the stronger side but their own handling errors and rising penalty count were threatening to be their undoing.
It was Steyning’s time to ramp up the pressure. Their heavier pack were being utilised with crash ball after crash ball but the BG defence didn’t break. Holding out attack after attack but failing to exit their 22 when they got territory. Steyning were eventually rewarded with a penalty in front of the posts which they duly took.
Barns Green had a chance to get points straight back when a fast chase on the restart forced the fumble giving BG the scrum in Steyning’s 22. Steyning’s pack were much heavier and consistently put BG under pressure. This ultimately saved them when the scrum kept collapsing and an unforced error led to the halftime whistle.
As the boys composed themselves at half time it was clear what BG needed to do, cut out the unforced errors, kick out of danger and get the ball moving into the hands of the backs.
The second half was similar to the first. A real hard slog in the pack, Steyning sticking to their game plan of using the big boys before trying to send it wide but Barns Green was resolute. The forwards gave up only inches and the backline's speed shut down any attempts to go wide.
Both teams were trading penalties but the game stayed largely in the midfield. The effects of a strong running game were becoming clear as the game kept getting stopped for injuries. This broke up the flow and stopped BG from gaining momentum in the game.
It was, however, a moment of individual skill from Matthew Hoyte which gave BG some daylight. Getting the ball in broken play on halfway, he managed to carve through the defence leaving tacklers stranded eventually sliding in under the posts to give Cooper another easy 2 points.
Steyning were not down but not out. Again they sent the ball crashing into the BG lines without much success. Penalty after penalty meant the BG boys were given the warning, the next one in the bin. Steyning finally got their reward when a tap and go put their forward in to crash over the line to get their first try of the day.
With only 10 minutes to go, Barns Green put the game to bed. A huge kick deep into Steyning territory was chased hard by the backs. Jarod Van Blerk pressured the fullback which in other games could have been called for tackling the man off the ball but Cooper wasn’t hanging around to wait and see. Picking the ball up off the floor and going over the line near the touchline. He capped off his try with a touchline conversion for the extra 2 points.
The final whistle blew and Barns Green had secured their undefeated start to the season. At the full-time whistle, captain Thomas Bouet reminded the boys that in seasons gone by they could have easily lost that game but the hard work and the brotherhood had paid off. It was a tough oppo with a few boys out position but we found a way to win and it shows huge character to graft these wins out.
Barns Green now go into a break before joining with the top three teams from Sussex Two East to compete for the ultimate glory.
Try Cooper - 1
Hoyte – 2
Conversions Cooper - 3
Man of the Match
1. Matt Taylor
2. Stephen Whittington
3. Harry Davies
4. James Dickson
5. Thomas Whittington
6. Calum Yeates
7. Thomas Bouët (c)
8. Nick Coulson
9. Rory Yeates
10. Matthew Hoyte
11. George Wilson
12. Jos Less
13. Nick Cooper
14. Jack Bone
15. Jarod Van Blerk
16. Mike Mann
17. Tom Green
18. Danny Conway