CONDITIONS were excellent for this big clash between sides near the top of the table, but other aspects of the fixture conspired to ruin the game as an afternoon’s enjoyable experience.

The visitors started brightly, with their intent to play open rugby epitomised by Luke O’Sullivan and White.

For the home side, the hard-running backs looked dangerous with ball in hand and Barry fell behind after 10 minutes to an Abercwmboi penalty when a hand was observed to offend at a ruck. The visitors then conceded a simple try by being guilty of non-existent tackling among the inside backs.

The visitors now roused themselves to put pressure on the home defence, which began to wobble. First Ryan was denied penalty success by the woodwork and then Barry inexplicably elected to take an abortive tap penalty from an identical position - a decision that baffled most observers and let their opponents off the hook.

Barry were successful with a further penalty chance soon afterwards but the momentum was lost.

The game, like so many this season, became a tussle between the visiting forwards and the home back division.

Abercwmboi then pitched in with a try, the lead up to which was punctuated by four unnoticed crossing manoeuvres, and it was abundantly clear the visitors would need to cope with more than a very good Abercwmboi outfit.

Barry, with Tanner in the van, had just managed to inject some pace and vigour into their game when they fell foul of the whistle holder’s decision making. Following a melee involving almost every player on the field, he decided, from afar, that the correct course of action was to sin bin a Barry player.

During the first session, the referee twice warned both captains of the consequences of transgression of the rules at ruck and maul. He then proceeded to allow open day in those areas! This inaction led to much frustration amongst both sets of players and bewilderment in the ranks of the paying public.

The well-drilled Abercwmboi XV began the second half in determined fashion and soon added two more tries. Needless to say, the second was abetted by another strange decision. This time a Barry player was adjudged not to have retreated the requisite distance from a penalty. This flouting of the rules was deemed so severe as to warrant another yellow card!

Amongst all this needless whistle blowing, Barry engineered a close range try by Hollister.

The game then settled into a reasonable contest, with the flow of play relatively even. However, neither Abercwmboi nor Barry had bargained with the yellow finger of fate, which dispatched another player from each side to the touchline! To their credit, Barry pressed forward during the latter stages of the match, but Abercwmboi could feel aggrieved when a penalty try was awarded against them for an infringement at a set scrummage.

Abercwmboi were the better side on the day and deserving of their victory. They showed a positive intent to translate the coach's tactics into their play. Both sides, their coaching staff and the long-suffering supporters were left wondering what might have been without the canary whistle blower.

Barry: Lundy, Rhys O’Sullivan, Hollister, Tanner, G Jones, Hadfield, Poole, H Jones(capt), Ryan, Luke O’Sullivan, Provis, White, Williams and Scott. Replacements: McTavish, Gallivan, Oaten and Mepham.

Barry's final home fixture is against Glyncoch this Saturday, April 19; kick-off 2.30pm.