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It was VP's day in Barns Green as they started the celebrations for their 30th year playing. They faced Shoreham in a mixed team pre-season friendly who were also celebrating their 30th anniversary. It would be Barns Greens' first test since the end of the pandemic facing a Shoreham side who would be competing in Sussex 2 East this season.

By all accounts, Barns Green started the stronger side and deservedly put the first points on the scoreboard. After well-worked phase play, controlled by scrum-half Thomas Bouet and fly-half Josiah Lee, the backfield opened up allowing Nick Cooper to break through a couple of tackles to put the first points on the board.

Barns Green continued to press on at the restart and was knocking on the door once again. Shoreham managed to turn the ball over and break away down the field with some brilliant support runs and offloads dotting the ball under the sticks to make the game 7-7. It wasn't long after that Ryan Watkinson had to be subbed off for injury which turned out to be a double fracture. We wish him a speedy recovery and we hope to see him back soon.

The high temperatures and unrelenting sun started to affect the BG boys who allowed Shoreham back into the game with some handling errors, missed tackles and tired running. A well-worked set-piece put Shoreham in on a large overlap allowing them to run through and score their second of the day.

This opened up the game for Shoreham who started to turn the screw. Their match fitness showed as they were able to release their speedy backline and put in a number of well-worked trys. Barns Green's numbers started to diminish through injuries and heat exhaustion which led to some moments of confusion when repositioning players. Despite this, Barns Green did put up some fantastic displays of defense with big hits from debutants Ben Baxter and Jack Bone and turnovers from Jamie Paige, Nick Coulson and Tom Bouet who turned over a rampaging Shoreham forward a meter out from the try line.

Barns Green suddenly galvanized around the 60-minute mark and began to take the game to Shoreham. With strong running from Jarod Van Blerk and forcing a number of errors and penalties, Barns Green found themselves on the Shoreham 22 unable to quite convert until a reverse play put Lloyd Prior in to score Barns Green's second try of the game. Despite some hearty attempts, such as George Wilson's cute chip and chase and Matt Taylor's heavy carries it wasn't enough to fully swing the game back in Barns Greens' favor as Shoreham came out as deserved winners 14 - 38.

Some of the players that really shone were the debutants for the Green and Gold and deserve special mentions. Stephen and Tom Whittington, Nick Coulson, Jack Bone, Josiah Lee, Ben Baxter and Tom Green. A further special mention goes to our vets who came on to represent Barns Green once again. Guy Viney, Phil Kemp, Steve Knapp and Robbo.

Captain Thomas Bouet noted that "...despite our mid-week injuries and having the vets onboard I'm pleased with how the boys played and especially the new guys. This was our first run out against a team who's already played a couple of games so I was pleased overall. The heat and lack of match fitness were clearly an issue and it was a wake-up call for everyone. It shows the boys the level we need to get to in order to be competitive this season. It was great to be back on the pitch despite the result"

Try Cooper - 1 Prior - 1

Conversions Cooper - 1

Van Blerk - 1

Man of the Match

Jarrod Van Blerk

Team Sheet: c = Captain, d = Debut, v = Vet

1. Matt Taylor

2. Mark Brown

3. Guy Viney

4. George Smith

5. Sam Smith

6. Carl Brewster

7. Nick Coulson (d)

8. Ryan Watkinson

9. Thomas Bouet (c)

10. Josiah Lee (d)

11. George Wilson

12. Jarod Van Blerk

13. Nick Cooper

14. Jack Bone (d)

15. Rory Yeates

16. Stephen Whittington (d)

17. Tom Whittington (d)

18. Tom Green (d)

19. Phil Kemp (v)

22. Ben Baxter (d)

23. Jamie Paige

24. Robbo (v)

25. Steve Knapp (v)

26. Lloyd Prior

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