Tries from Sprigge, Pestridge and Cooper secured a 28-12 victory as Barns Green found their groove again at the crucial time.
Full Time: Barns Green: (21) 28 Worthing: (0) 12
Tries: Cooper, Pestridge, Sprigge (2) Cons: Cooper (4)
It’s been three games since Barns Green last won in the league after a touch run of fixtures against the league leaders. You would have forgiven them for seeing the finish line and limp over as moral looked down but that’s not what they did.
Worthing Azurians came to the field of dreams wanting the win. They bought a large squad, hunger and aggression from the offset and it nearly caught the green and gold off guard.
At the kick-off, Worthing were looking dangerous keeping the ball in the BG 22 for a long period. Some early penalties meant Barns Green found it hard to exit and the first scrum saw the heavier Worthing pack dominate. On the front foot, the Worthing 8 picked up from the base and charged for the line. It would have been a sure try if it wasn’t for captain Thomas Bouet reading the run and holding the 8 up over the line. The lines were cleared, and Barns Green could start to put their game plan into action.
The game was aggressive with neither side wanting to yield territory. Some big hits were going in from both sides and at one ruck, tempers flared between the two packs. It set the tone of the game early on and meant no one could hide from their responsibilities.
With both wingers rarely dropping back to cover space, Barns Greens kicking out of hand meant they could start to get a foothold in the game as they pinned Worthing in their half. Matthew Sprigge’s kicking was excellent which would ultimately set him up for his first try of the day.
A low kick bouncing into the Worthing 22 to secure the 50-22 lineout, gave the backs a great attacking platform. With Chris Bailey stepping in from full back to sit in the 10 channel at times, allowed Sprigge to push wide and probe the defensive lines with some direct running. One of those runs paid dividends as a quick pass from Bailey put Sprigge into a gap allowing him to get over the line for the first try of the day.
It felt like Barns Green had the momentum at this point and that more tries were on their way.
They didn’t have to wait long for the second try. A driving maul gained some meters before Gage Pestridge, who had a man of the match performance, peeled off from the maul with 15 meters to go. Bouncing off several tackles he crashed his way to the line for Barns Green second try of the day.
Not wanting to miss out on the action, Nick Cooper would be the man for the third. Another spiralling kick put Barns Green in a dominating position as they found themselves on the Worthing try line. The forwards who were exemplary at the break down carried round the ruck trying to break the tenacious Worthing defence. Wanting to secure the ball instead of being held up, their patience was rewarded as cooper managed to burrow his way under tackles and reach for the line.
Half-time came as Barns Green enjoyed a 21-0 lead however, if history was anything to go by, they couldn’t rest on that gap.
Worthing came out to the second half in a different gear. Immediately using their big boys to crash into the lines. Their 10 effectively commanding the play around him as Worthing probed the defensive lines but without much success. Although Worthing looked dangerous, Barns Green constantly managed to weather the storm and clear their lines.
Their high press defence is what bought about Barns Greens 4th try. As the Worthing Fly-Half put in one of his long passes, Wilson saw the opportunity and pressed up managing to intercept the ball on the halfway line. All season Barns Green’s ethos has been KBA (keep the ball alive) and it paid off this time. Wilson, being dragged down 5 meters out by the retreating 10, popped the ball up off the deck to Sprigge who ran it in for the 4th try of the day.
Kicking was outstanding from the hand and the tee which made the difference
Nick Cooper slotted all of his kicks from the tee including a tough near touchline kick. If he hadn’t been so accurate, Barns Green would have only been up 15-0 at half time which is mentally a much easier target for Worthing to come back from. Sprigge and Bailey were seeing huge rewards for their kicks both often finding touch, kicking into the space and, using the sun in the second half, kicked some high balls to make life hard for the Worthing back three.
Despite a commanding 28-0 lead, Worthing were coming back into the game. They were fighting for every inch and their bench were starting to make the difference. Strong running from the centres started to make head way as they broke the Barns Green defence a couple of times. At other times, it looked a little chaotic as the Worthing ten found himself in no mans land after his runners over ran their mark several times. This chaos though, caused some confusion in the Barns Green defensive line as it caused large gaps to open up.
Worthing made use of one of these openings as they managed to cut through and break a couple of tackles before going over the line to give them a fighting chance. Ably converted there was a worry that Barns Green could begin to implode. Without the luxury of a large bench, Barns Green's fitness was going to be tested.
The nerves amplified when Worthing managed to break the line again and after an off load out of the tackle, they managed to grab another try back. You'd forgive Barns Green for the feeling of deja vu but with only 10 minutes on the clock Barns Green managed to see out the game to take the bonus point win.
This game could have gotten away from Barns Green, but they have found their groove again.
With the recent run of results, Barns Green will be really pleased with this game. Every single player stepped up and played their part. The forwards were hungry and aggressive, the backs were clinical and smart, and they all had the positive mindset to take each other over the line. A complete display that hasn’t been seen since losing their 8-game winning streak.
After the game, Bouet said “I asked the boys for a reaction following a disappointing few weeks and they delivered one of the most complete performances of the season. Everyone from 1 to 15 played their part and the mindset was excellent. We hope to bring the momentum into the final game and finish the season on a high in front of our VPs”.
Barns Green will not doubt be on a high as they approach the last game of the season against Steyning at the Field of Dreams. They will be hungry for the home win to finish their anniversary season off with a bang.
Man of the Match
Gage Pestridge Matthew Sprigge
1. James Dickson
2. Stephen Whittington
3. Sean Wasley
4. Carl Brewster
5. Tom Smith
6. Gage Pestridge
7. Nick Coulson
8. Joe Serna
9. Thomas Bouët (c)
10. Matthew Sprigge
11. George Wilson
12. Nick Cooper
13. Liam Yeates
14. Josiah Lee
15. Chris Bailey
17. Ben Baxter
18. Jack Bone