Injury-hit Firsts battle in vain
7:02am Thursday 26th September 2013 in Sport
BARRY 1st XV 20pts
ST JOSEPHS 29
THE Barry Rugby Club senior side welcomed league leaders St Josephs to the Reservoir Field on Saturday and it was obvious the physical advantage of the visiting players would have a huge effect on the afternoon's outcome.
Opting to play with the wind and slope, the visitors made their intentions clear - to keep the the game open at every opportunity and to bring their 'Lomuesque' winger into play.
There were early penalties for both sides, with Barry coping well with the physical approach of the visitors, but slick close handling from the forwards undid the home defence and gave the visitors the first score.
Under pressure, the visitors were not slow to bend the rules and, by the 13th minute, the teams had shared 12 penalties.
Barry were warming to the task and began to play their own driving game, which was quite effective and unsettled the visitors, who conceded further penalties. This allowed Barry to get on the scoreboard with a penalty from Lee.
There was to be no relief for the home side, however, as the visitors tore back into the attack, using their big forwards and tying in the staunch defence to create space for 'Mr Lomu' to cross unopposed for a 12-3 lead.
When the restart was knocked on, Barry were given a rare opportunity to use their backs and they did this to great effect. Following a clever snipe by Lee and forward drive, Provis was on hand to cross for a well worked try to reduce the deficit to two points.
This score seemed to give the home side confidence, with the visitors on the back foot, and with a bit of luck they could have taken the lead after a fine movement from the backs nearly resulted in another try.
The home line out was under constant pressure and the loss of two in succession caused Barry problems as half time drew near. This gave territorial advantage to the visitors, who, with more accuracy, would surely have scored despite the huge defensive effort being made by the home side.
Now playing up the slope and into the breeze, the visitors soon gave notice of their intentions, with effective forward driving and good line kicking putting even more pressure on an overworked defence. And, when a penalty took them close to the Barry line, the resulting line out and clean possession allowed a drive over the line to increase the lead to19-10.
A change of tactics by Barry in using the wind to their advantage reaped huge benefits as high up and unders caused uncertainty in the visiting defence. Firstly they conceded a successful penalty and this was soon followed by a towering kick which landed in space and enabled Provis to notch his second try, duly converted by Lee, to give Barry a surprising 20-19 lead.
The visitors hit back with more forward drives and, as Barry were penalised, a quick penalty gave them a try to restore their lead.
Barry kept pegging away with the kicking game and there were one or two near misses, but the huge defensive effort by the whole side was beginning to have a physical effect and, despite bringing on replacements, a number of walking wounded were having to play on. It was no surprise, therefore, that the visitors took advantage of this and, from a scrum close to the home line, they drove over to increase their lead.
All credit to Barry as they launched attacks in the final minutes which, although not producing a score, gave a good indication of the spirit in the team.
Perhaps not deserving of a win against a team that will be hard to beat this season, Barry's undying efforts in defence probably warranted a losing bonus point.
Of concern for the coaches will be the injury count which continues to mount and frustrates the opportunity to field a settled side.
Next Saturday Barry travel to Llandaff; kick off 2.30pm.