In bitterly cold temperatures, Barns Green came away with a well-deserved 26-22 win against a Jersey Royal team who wouldn't give up.
Full Time: Jersey Royals: (17) 22 Barns Green: (26) 26
Tries: Sercombe, Van Blerk, Sprigge, Serna Cons: Cooper (3)
A 4.30 am call time for the boys at Gatwick airport meant this was going to be a long day for Barns Green as they prepared for their first visit to Jersey to take on the Royals. After the defeat to Worthing the week before, Barns Green were keen to get back on track with the last game before the halfway point in the season.
Barns Green arrived with strong support from members of the VPs who had made the flight over. If there were fears of a wasted trip then the first 12 minutes dispelled those fears as they were treated to three tries being scored in quick succession of each other.
The green and gold came out of the blocks with physicality and a positive mentality however just 5 minutes in, an error in the backline lead to Jersey's opening try as they collected the loose ball and ran half the length of the pitch to score under the posts.
As quickly as they went down, Barns Green fought back 3 minutes later with a try of their own. Some bruising tackles and dominant counter rucks won the ball back which resulted in a penalty just 10 metres out. Being on the front foot, Thomas Bouet took a quick tap and go passing it on to Matt Sercombe who crashed over for the try.
7 -5 to Barns Green and it felt like the momentum had swung well in their favour as they had steadied the ship from the opening try. A harmless scrum just short of the halfway line was the undoing of that quick reaction as the ball shot out against the head. This gave the fast Jersey wing lots of space to fly in for the second Jersey try of the game.
Despite being down Barns Green was eager to fight back and get a hold in the game. Their impressive and physical rucking found themselves on the right side of the penalty count as Jersey were failing to secure their own ball. Another well-placed kick into the corner from Matthew Sprigge began a series of quick hands from the line which eventually put Jarod Van Blerk in to crash the ball over from 10 metres.
The game level at 12-12, and the momentum was fully in Barns Greens' favour. They were winning the breakdown and were putting in some bruising crash balls to create strong platforms for the backs to run off. It wasn’t long until Barns Green got their third and then their bonus point 4th with Matthew Sprigge glided through a fractured Jersey defence after some quick ball at the breakdown and Joe Serna getting a try on his return from a maul.
Barns Green was in the ascendency, but they would do their best to throw it away
Moments before half time Jersey managed to strike back. After Barns Green’s last try a couple of mistakes started to creep in as the momentum once again started to shift. Some errant kicks, handling errors and penalties put Jersey on the front foot within the Barns Green 22. With some quick ball from the Jersey scrum half, they managed to work an overlap despite a scrambling defence trying to fill the gaps. With a four-on-one, the Jersey ten threw a long pass out to their winger as he went over for their third of the day.
As the half-time whistle blew it was clear the last 5 minutes of the half had knocked the confidence of the Barns Green boys despite managing to get a bonus point in the first half. The nervousness and the travel began to show early in the second as Jersey scored quickly after the kick-off. Barns Green looked like they could easily lose their heads and let this game get away from them.
The energy had dipped but they continued to put in some big hits and remained a dominant force at the breakdown. At scrum time, they were pushing the royals back a good couple of metres and looked certain to win a scrum penalty any moment but as the game wore on, the handling errors increased and the structure began to disappear. Despite this, they continued to keep Jersey out of the red zone and safely away from scoring any points.
With only moments remaining in the game, Barns Green looked set to score a 5th. A driving maul invited some of the backs to join in to try and get the ball over the line but no luck. A resulting scrum gave Jersey one last chance of getting down the field albeit from their own 5-metre line. A huge large push from the BG pack meant the Jersey 8 had to collect the ball under pressure and the loose forwards pounced driving him back over his try line effectively bringing the game to an end.
An unusual game that showed once again Barns Green's strengths but also their weakness
In the past, this game could well have gotten away from Barns Green but their positive attitude and physicality meant they didn't. You can't help but take into account the extremely early start and travel when looking at the negatives but that didn't matter one bit as the boys celebrated the win late into the night. To Jersey's credit, they didn't know how to give up and looked like a threat until the very end.
This was some of the best rugby Barns Green have played this season and that will only push them on to their last game of 2022 against Steyning who grounded out a win against Ditchling to remain 3rd in the table.
Man of the Match
1. Matthew Taylor (Danny Conway)
2. Patrick Pritchard (Joe Spencer-Smith)
3. James Dickson (c)
4. Will Staples
5. Tom Smith
6. Carl Brewster
7. Joe Serna
8. Matt Sercombe
9. Thomas Bouet
10. Matthew Sprigge
11. George Wilson (vc)
12. Nick Cooper
13. Noah Middleton
14. Josiah Lee (Rory Yeates)
15. Jarod Van Blerk
16. Nick Lewis
17. Joe Spencer-Smith
18. Rory Yeates
19. Danny Conway