Barns Green's impressive run of 8 games undefeated finally ended against a strong Haywards Heath side.
Full Time: Barns Green: (0) 14 Haywards Heath: (15) 22
Trys: Dickson, Serna Cons: Pestridge 2
The pre-match talk before the game was 'no matter what happens, make sure you put in a performance you're proud of'. Despite the score line, that is something the squad can confidently say they did. Due to injures and positive Covid tests, the game was in doubt for most of the week but as ever, the boys got a team together and played their hearts out.
Coming off a defeat against Shoreham, Haywards Heath were keen to bounce back and there was no better time to do that than against the only undefeated team in the league. From the start Haywards heath were piling pressure on BG and despite a few visits in the Haywards Heath half, much of the first half was played in Barns Green territory. A turn over at the scrum meant Barns Green couldn't change formation in time to keep out Haywards Heath's back line who sent the ball wide and scored in the corner.
There was a feeling in the air that this game wasn't going to go the way the green and gold hoped as heads were starting to drop and handling errors were mounting. Despite this, the defence did not collapse. Some big hits were put in and Barns Green were able to keep the Haywards Heath attack at bay for large parts of the game.
A penalty advantage allowed Haywards Heath to break into the back field and some slick off loads got them their second whilst a errors and a momentary switch off allowed them info their third to take them in 15-0 up at half time.
Injury numbers mount for Barns Green but they will continue to fight
Barns Green were already in trouble with injuries, 5 of their back line either playing out of position or debutants. It was worrying to see Danny Conway, who had been in such impressive form in his last two outings go down with a pulled hamstring in the first half forcing a returning Davies into the mix early. The worst was when Rory Yeates, standing in at 10 for a Covid positive Matthew Hoyte, broke his wrist in what was a controversial tackle when the play had seemingly stopped. The game paused for a long time whilst the physios dealt with the injury and the referee dealt with the incident. It's sad to report that Rory Yeates's season is over and for someone who flies around the field like a torpedo putting his body on the line week in and week out, it feels unjust that his season has ended in such a manner.
If the boys needed to rally around something then they just had it. Barns Green came out in the second half ready for a physical fight, in typical Barns Green fashion, they weren't going to go down easy. From the moment the ball was restarted the green and gold were dominant and hungry for a try. Joe Serna, Matt Taylor and George Smith carrying the ball with purpose and broke through the Haywards Heath lines forcing them to turn. They marched down the field and after some well worked phases, put James Dickson in for his first try dragging a number of players with him. The conversation was slotted in by Gage Pestridge who was called up in the final moments and put on a great display at full back working with the wingers to cover the back field and confidently stepping up for the kicks.
By all intense and purposes it seemed as if BG would march right back down for a second and despite a 4th Haywards Heath try, they were still intent on taking this game to the final whistle. Man of the Match Serna managed to get the second for BG and the first of the season for himself. He looked threatening all game and broke a number of tackles to finally claw his way to the line just reaching it with momentum.
Barns Green were fully back in the fight. Trailing Haywards Heath 22 - 14, a single converted try would have changed everything. At times, BG showed some fantastic individual skills with off loads out of tackle, one such move starting down the blind side only for the final pass to go to the feet of the supporting player. The Barns Green back line were also putting on fine displays in defence, with constantly communicating to each other and managing to contain the dangerous HH centres for most of the second half.
"We will learn more from this defeat than any win"
Barns Green could have easily folded but they didn't. Despite the loss, they showed some real grit and determination against a strong Haywards Heath side. When their backs were up against the wall, they came back fighting and on another day they may well have grabbed that third try.
The game did have many positives which will certainly please coach Gaynor. Many of the areas they've been working on were on full display and coupled with heart and resolve meant they kept themselves in the game for the full 80.
Captain Tom Bouet told the boys how big of a game that was and how proud he was that each player stepped up in the face of adversity. A huge mention and thanks to those players who stepped up to make sure the fixture went ahead, especially those who were nursing injuries.
Barns Green travel to Haywards Heath for the next game and with a number of returning players it is bound to be another exciting match up against the main title contenders. Hopefully Barns Green and go and take back the points they lost on Saturday and continue their push for the top of the table.
Man of the Match:
1. Matt Taylor
2. Stephen Whittington
3. Danny Conway
4. James Dickson
5. George Smith
6. Joe Serna
7. Jamie Paige
8. Carl Brewster (vc)
9. Thomas Bouët (c)
10. Rory Yeates
11. George Wilson
12. Tom Smith
13. Jos Lee
14. Tom Green
15. Gage Pestridge
16. Jack Bone
17. Harry Davies
18. Daniel Van Duyne