Truly capital display from the Seconds

First published in Sport

St JOSEPHS 2nd XV 15pts

BARRY RFC 2nd XV 18

WITH the luxury of having almost a full squad to choose from, head coach Darren Gibbon and forwards coach Dai Griffiths kept faith with the spine of a Barry Rugby Club 2nd XV which has suffered just one defeat in 2014.

Making the midweek trip to the capital to play at the Cardiff Arms Park under floodlights and in perfect conditions, Barry started with a bang, turning the ball over almost instantly to instigate a penalty. Einan Scott coolly slotted over from 40 metres.

St Josephs were, however, not rocked by the early setback, and utilised their heavy pack to gain ground in the tight. The hosts showed why they are challenging near the top of the division with their game management, but, to Barry’s credit, the defensive line was superbly marshalled by captain Hywel Jones and ably assisted by Scott, Poole, and, most spectacularly, Rhys O’Sullivan, who seemed to be a man possessed in the first interval.

With little advantage gained in open play, the hosts decided to utilise the boot and it paid immediate dividends. With a line-out deep in the Barry 22, they formulated a simple yet effective pushover try. The fly-half’s attempt at the conversion was wild and inaccurate.

A large crowd roared Barry on in an attempt to reverse the team’s fortunes and, although St Josephs continued to have more of the ball and territory, they made no inroads despite their impressive pack. Instead, it was Barry who scored slightly against the run of play, with prop O’Sullivan intercepting from 45 metres out to touch down in the corner. Scott’s excellent conversion gave Barry a five-point advantage.

With James Hadfield introduced into the fold following Callum Scott’s injury, Barry seemed to have an extra spring in their step and could have scored again if a final pass had gone to hand. Instead, back came the hosts with another predictable catch-and-drive, with the result being another touch down in the corner. The conversion was missed.

With the scores level at half time, all was still to play for. St Josephs started the second half much stronger, camping deep in the Barry half, but their repeated efforts on the visiting line were constantly repelled by a physically smaller but by no means weaker visiting pack, who withheld the siege.

Strong, surging runs by Provis, Scott, Jones and Tanner saw Barry regain possession and territory, and the result was a kickable penalty in the home 22. Sensing an opportunity for more than just three points, Hadfield tapped quickly and charged towards the try line, only to be stopped just short, but not before recycling the ball to allow Alyn Evan to score his fourth try of the season. Scott’s conversion sailed narrowly wide to the cheers of the St Josephs crowd - but their delight was shortlived.

Having regained the momentum, Barry sensed a chance to kill the game off and surged forward again. The home side had no choice but to concede another penalty, in almost an identical position of the earlier missed conversion, but this time Scott made no mistake as he bisected the posts.

With the game seemingly out of their reach and down to 14 men following a red card, the hosts showed the determination that saw them near the top of the league by scoring a late, unconverted try. Barry, however, held out for the last two minutes – although not without drama – to record a well-earned victory.

The effort, attitude and skill levels shown by the players and management alike were commendable.

The club would also like to thank the travelling support for making it a night to remember.

Barry’s next scheduled game against Nantymoel on March 22 has been postponed due to the visitors' cup commitments, and, therefore, the 1st XV will return to action on March 29 away at local rivals Cowbridge.

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