Barnstaple just force a draw as Weston produce a great performance
Weston looked the better side in the opening exchanges as they played into a stiff and very cold breeze is this final league game of the season. Weston’s pack, despite being significantly lighter, had the home pack in trouble from the first scrum and Weston had superior line speed. A couple of half chances were missed by dropped passes but, following three very quick phases the ball was moved towards the right wing and a good offload found Sam Fisher in support to touch down for the first try in the corner. With the wind getting up Dickson’s conversion attempt was just wide. Barnstaple gained some3 momentum and kicked a penalty to the corner. Unable to sack the catcher Weston were under pressure from the Barnstaple rolling maul and they drove over for an unconverted try. 10 minutes later and they repeated the trick to register their second try to the delight of a large and partisan crowd. Despite Brad Talbot picking up a yellow for a high tackle Weston’s defence held secure and the sides turned round with the home side narrowly in front. Weston hoped for better in the second half with the wind at their backs and again the scrum proved to much for Barnstaple to cope with and they conceded a penalty. Dickson kicked the goal and Weston had narrowed the gap to 2 points with just 3 second half minutes gone. Barnstaple struck back with another line out catch and drive and this time they picked up a conversion to extend their lead. Weston then had their best period of the game. The Barnstaple forwards were getting well and truly beaten at the tight scrum and there were several flare ups as tempers boiled over. Weston kept their heads and following quick second phase possession Glenn Dickson forced his way over under the posts. His conversion was good. Weston kept up the pressure and a number of scrums ended in penalties for Weston. Following one Brad Talbot picked up and drove for the line. Three phases later, all of close quarter forward drives, he was on hand to exploit a gap and with Dickson converting his try Weston were in front with 15 minutes to play. Weston’s efforts were relentless but Barnstaple tackled for all they were worth. They broke out of defence and worked the ball to the left wing to score a try just inside the line. The conversion attempt fell short and the scores were level going into the last 5 minutes. As another scrum ended in a Weston penalty Dickson stepped up to take a shot at goal. Sadly no fairy tale ending for Weston’s player coach as his attempted fell just short and wide. The last moments of the game were as furious and frenetic as the whole game and when the ref blew for the end of this very exciting match, perhaps a draw was justice for both teams. However Barnstaple conceded 8 penalties at the scrum and Weston were left wondering why there had been no yellow card for persistent infringement. Weston finish the season in 7th place in South West Premier, just two points behind Exmouth. Weston got good results against all the teams above them bar runaway league champions Bournemouth. A poor start and a few off days reduced Weston’s league position and they will feel pleased but will know that they could have finished in the top four. The club has one more fixture, The Bristol Combination cup final against Thornbury at Dings Crusader’s ground on Thursday 25th April. Weston have never won this particular competition and will be hoping to send Glenn Dickson on his way back to New Zealand with a winners medal. A win would also set up the club dinner on the following night to be a real occasion for celebration.