“ Weston ultimately too strong for lively Barum!”
By Pete Sloman
Match report by Tony Russell, photos courtesy of Andrew Collins
Weston hadn’t read the script for their first home game of the season, after all Barnstaple had gone public in the press with claims that they had the “best backs in the League” and the “best lineout in the League!” (how can one tell after one match?!!) and the Devon side arrived buoyed up with the euphoria of their previous good win against Redingensians, when they had apparently contained the Rams pack, confident of success against old rivals and a second league win…..It didn’t happen, and apart from a twenty minute spell in the second half when they enjoyed a period of pressure to reduce the arrears, the home side ran out comfortable winners.
Weston took the lead after five minutes with a Mackay penalty. The visitors had already lost second row Gohl to the bin for playing the ball on the ground in the red zone ( this unfortunate fellow seems to spend more time off the pitch than he does on it but one is assured that he is a lovely chap with a lot of potential!). They increased the lead after eleven minutes when a midfield turnover created quick ball for Skelton and Jones to combine, and with both of them with too much pace for the cover, the latter touched down under the posts. WSM 10- 0 which became 13-0 five minutes later when scrum pressure resulted in another Mackay penalty. Further forward pressure yielded another penalty as the home pack dominated their opponents, allowing the Barum backs few opportunities, and when they did attack, the midfield defence held firm, but after 28 minutes, opposing fly half Perry, who had predictably been throwing out his long miss passes, changed tack and threaded a grubber kick past the defensive line for Topps to score Barums’ first points from ten metres. The conversion was missed. Mackay completed the first half scoring with a beauty from 45 metres. Barum had been awarded a penalty which was reversed by the referee following backchat, allegedly from Kimberly….” You should have stayed at Exmouth” suggested a wag in the crowd as the teams trooped off the field. “I should have retired” came the rueful response. Half time WSM 19 Barum 5.
The visitors hit the ground running after the break, pressurising the home side in a lively spell and gaining 6 penalties in the space of ten minutes. Carter crossed on the overlap for their second try on 50 minutes, this time converted to close the gap to 19-12 but 5 minutes later, a furious driving maul, with all 15 Barnstaple players involved, was unable to cross the Weston line. Having weathered the temporary storm the home team regrouped. Mackays long range penalty on the hour drifted across the face of the posts and Winger Watkins was quickest to react, plucking the ball from under the noses of two defenders, and when halted, offloaded for Smee to barge over for a Westons second try and a 24-12 lead. Mackay received a yellow card on 66 minutes and Barum scored a corner try through Berry against the 14 men to once again reduce the arrears. It was to be their last hurrah. Weston dominated the remainder of the match. Twice their forwards laid siege to the opponents line. After a series of thrusts second row Bufton scored his first try in a Weston shirt for Skelton to convert, and on the stroke of full time, the forwards repeated the operation, committing the opposition forwards for scrum half Waldon to pick up and stroll in untroubled from fifteen metres, and the bonus point score.
There is still much improvement to come from Weston. The players and coaching staff will feel slightly disappointed at what they felt was perhaps a 60% “stop start” performance but a five point win and 36 points are nevertheless satisfactory….it could have been more! Barnstaple felt they deserved better and that the margin flattered the winners…..it’s a long season!
Weston team…Skelton (Bennett), Jones, Smee, Edwards, Watkins, Mackay, Waldon, Swann, Burge, Hobbs (Price), Bufton, Russell, Webber, Morrisey(Fisher), Sparks.