Cup defeat in face of 'overwhelming' numbers

First published in Sport

LLANISHEN 3rd XV 14pts

BARRY RFC 3rd XV 12

BARRY Rugby Club Thirds' caretaker manager Ken Chow was faced with a selection crisis when six players withdrew in the 24 hours leading up to Saturday's Ron Lucock Cup clash at Llanishen Park.

As a result, Dave Evans made a return from injury at full back, whilst Gareth Hall was moved into the front row. Numerous players were out of position and Chow, himself, was on the replacement bench.

Despite the disruption, Barry began at a ferocious pace. Using a simple tactic of utilising the strong runners, the visitors gained territory in the first quarter of the game, camping on the Llanishen line. There were good contributions from Elsworth, Hall, Ethan Dix and Hollister, creating numerous try-scoring opportunities which were, unfortunately, spurned.

Just when all the hard work seemed to have been in vain, especially when Mike Hamonda was held just short of the line, fly-half Corrigan took an opportunistic quick throw in, which saw Dix saunter across underneath the posts. Corrigan curiously declined the kicking tee for the conversion, and the drop kick sailed underneath the posts. This would prove costly later on.

Barry were dominant in the scrum area, with the front row of Houldey, Turnbull and Hall more than holding their own, whilst there were encouraging signs in the line-out, with captain Lloyd Jones directing matters.

The tide turned towards the end of the half as Llanishen came back into the game after bringing on reinforcements from the bench. After camping on the Barry line for long periods, they eventually crashed over for a converted score to take the lead.

At the interval, the game was finely balanced, and Chow introduced Alyn Evans into the fore at No 8, and he made an instant impact with some barnstorming runs from the base of the scrum. Despite the territory gained, however, Barry seemed to lack the know-how to unlock a determined Llanishen defence.

This was until Corrigan’s hopeful punt forward forced an error from the home winger, with Hamonda pouncing gratefully on the loose ball to score his third try of the season. Dix took over the kicking duties and stroked over the conversion.

Llanishen introduced yet more reinforcements from the sidelines, which baffled the visitors as they had used more than the allowed number of substitutes. With fresh legs on the field, the hosts garnered the strength and power to string together a devastating counter-attacking move which saw them score under the posts. With the conversion a formality, Barry found themselves two points down with just 10 minutes to go.

Some superb ball carrying by Busuttil, Evans and Hollister saw the visitors edge towards the Llanishen line, and Dix had the chance to win the game with a penalty opportunity but his kick sailed narrowly wide. Other opportunities were spurned by some Barry ill-discipline, most notably from full-back Evans, but Barry had one last chance when they turned over ball in their own 22, only to kick away possession on the last play of the game.

Whilst Barry might reflect on what could have been, the effort by all the players were outstanding and the management was satisfied by the attitude shown by all 17 who took the field.

The side return to action next weekend away to Whitchurch.

Team: D Evans; Rees, Dix, Hamonda, Adams; Corrigan, Busuttil; Hall, Turnbull, Houldey; Elsworth, Davies; Templeman, Jones (c) and Hollister. Replacements: A Evans and E Evans. Sub not used: Chow. Man-of-the-match: Jones.

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