Seconds' semi-final misery after great effort

First published in Sport

RHIWBINA 2nd XV 22pts

BARRY 2nd XV 19

THE Barry Rugby Club 2nd XV headed to Hailey Park on Thursday to face Rhiwbina in the East District Cup semi-final.

Coach Rhidian Scott and manager Ken Chow made several changes, opting to give James Hadfield a first start for the club this season, partnering the recalled John Miles in the back row. Tiernan Scott started at full back, with Kyle Barclay drafted in from the 3rd XV on the bench.

Fresh from their victory over Barry on Saturday, Rhiwbina started the brighter and, with a combination of slick handling and well-drilled forward drives, pinned the green-and-whites in their own half. Their dominance was soon rewarded with three points via a penalty.

Barry responded almost immediately, led by Hadfield’s charge, and managed to turn the ball over. When the same player forced a penalty opportunity, Jordan Flynn was on hand to stroke over from near halfway to level the scores.

The Barry pack was struggling in the scrum but was more than holding its own in the loose, with the new look back row dictating proceedings. Flynn benefited from the go-forward to utilise his midfield of White and Williams and, when he was presented with another penalty opportunity, he gave Barry the lead.

Back came Rhiwbina. Exerting their dominance in the scrum, they executed a pre-planned move from the set piece to score an unconverted try in the corner.

After Barry had gone back in front with yet another long range Flynn penalty, the green-and-whites sent first Hadfield and then Hamonda charging towards the try line, only to be stopped just short. With an attacking scrum, Barry looked odds on to score, only for the ball to be lost in the set piece and for Rhiwbina to string together a flowing counter attacking move to regain the lead with another unconverted score.

At half-time, the game was evenly balanced, with the score at 13-9. Coach Rhidian Scott introduced Jason Thomas and Barclay into the fold, and they immediately helped to steady the creaking scrum.

With parity restored in the set piece, Barry surged forward to look to regain the lead. This was duly delivered by a series of forward drives towards the Rhiwbina line and, after several players went close to scoring, Kyle Case was on hand to ground the ball to give Barry the lead. Flynn missed the extras.

The game ebbed and flowed but it was Rhiwbina who gained the upper hand as they gained more possession and territory, and retook the lead with another penalty.

Coach Scott threw on Joel Williams at scrum-half and he made an instant impact, disrupting the Rhiwbina go-forward as he pestered his opposite number, but it was to no avail when the referee intervened, harshly sin-binning Flynn. The resulting penalty saw Rhiwbina edge closer to victory.

With only 14 men, Barry rallied hard and stopped their opponents from scoring a try, most notably when scrum-half replacement Williams made a last-ditch tackle. Soon after, however, Rhiwbina extended their lead with yet another penalty and they were seemingly out of reach.

With three minutes to go and, despite the man disadvantage, Barry rallied once more. Williams made a characteristic sniping run, and his pass found Brad White out on the wing, who raced through to score in the corner. Scott was unable to find the target to leave Barry three points behind.

Barry was unable to regain possession again and the pulsating cup-tie ended 22-19 to Rhiwbina, but no-one could fault the effort and spirit shown by the green-and-whites who battled against the odds, with Rhiwbina fielding a strong side featuring several first-team players.

Team: Scott; Hamonda, White, D Williams, Hamonda; Flynn, Mepham; Hosking, Vidal, Lundy; Case, Jones; Miles, Hadfield and Rolfe (capt). Replacements: Thomas, Corne, Barclay, Hewitson, J Williams, Dix and Lee. Man-of-the-match: Scott.

Less than 48 hours after the epic midweek cup tie, the Second travelled to runaway leaders St Josephs for their penultimate league game.

With only three of the 15 starting players available for selection, and five players dropping out within 24 hours of kick-off, plus two more of the squad failing to turn up, coach Scott and manager Chow delved deep into the Barry squad. As it was, eight players were promoted from the 3rd XV, with Compton and Cleland making their full debuts. Chow started his first game for the 2nd XV since 2011.

It was no surprise that St Josephs were dominant as a revamped and severely weakened Barry side was unable to hold off their attacking play. After 20 minutes, the home side were already seemingly out of sight as Barry barely touched the ball.

Scott attempted to rally his threadbare squad, and the inexperienced side, led by veteran Nick Rolfe and Lee Jones, attempted to adapt their style of play to suit, and had some instant success as St Josephs ball was turned over.

From a set piece in the home half, Rolfe fed Joel Williams who found space on the blindside, setting up Ashley Adams who beat the last defender to score in the corner.

Tries came and went for the home side and the bonus point was already secured and the game finished as a contest by half time when Scott brought on Jason Thomas in an attempt to reverse the team’s fortunes in the tight.

Barry found some joy around the fringes of the ruck area and, after several drives, they finally scored when Thomas crashed over from close range.

St Josephs continued to pile on the points but Barry responded with a superb counter attacking move of their own. Chow, on his 50th and possibly last appearance, fielded a high ball in his own half; his offload found Williams, and the ball was spread first to Adams and then Ethan Dix who sprinted clear to score in the corner.

There were no more attacking opportunities for the away side as they tired from the endless tackling during the earlier portions of the match, and Barry narrowly missed out on a bonus point.

Despite the defeat, the spirit shown was admirable.

The management would like to thank all 18 players who wore their heart on their sleeves in order to fulfil this fixture, and would like to see this attitude replicated in the final home match against St Peters next weekend.

Team: Lee; Chow, Dix, Hewitson, Forrester; Adams, Williams; Compton, Turnbull, Pirso; Lee Jones, Barclay; Cleland, Lloyd Jones and Rolfe (capt). Replacements: Thomas, Hall and Moffat. Man-of-the-match: Chow.

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