WITH perfect conditions for rugby, there was no excuse for anything but an entertaining afternoon at the Reservoir Field last Saturday. Due to a perceived clash of colours, the home side appeared in an “all white strip” and, by the end, they had suffered their first defeat of the season.

The visitors fielded a side with plenty of muscle across their ranks, and their big forwards gave Barry a tough time throughout, whilst their skilful backs posed problems for the home team tacklers at regular intervals.

Barry’s kick-off did not travel the requisite 10 metres, which put them on the back foot immediately. Within five minutes of the start, the visitors had opened their account with a well-worked try although it was not without the benefit of some crossing in the process.

Neither side could adapt to the referee’s interpretation of the laws governing the breakdown area, and the result was a plethora of penalty awards from one of which the visitors extended their lead to 10 points. After the home side improved their ball retention, they came into the game more. With the spark provided by Alex Evans, they began to exert some pressure on the visiting defence, the result being two penalties that reduced the deficit to four points.

Old Illtydians made full use of a heel against the head at the scrum to engineer a further try near the posts. Inexplicably, the conversion failed although a penalty opportunity soon afterwards did not.

Barry saw out the remainder of the half on the offensive and seemingly preoccupied with inside backs feeding runners coming on the inside channel. The visiting defenders seemed unfazed by such tactics.

The second half opened, as did the first, with the referee’s decisions baffling both teams. The official had no option to yellow card a visitor who committed a professional foul and award Barry a penalty try, which was duly converted. The home team began to exhibit greater intensity and pressurised the visitors to commit a further yellow card offence, this being a deliberate knock forward.

With their opponents down to 13 men, Barry had the opportunity to close out the game. However, it was not to be. There is nothing wrong with taking every chance to kick penalties to keep the scoreboard ticking over. But, when the ball is not finding the target and against a very depleted opponent, the correct tactic should be to elect for set scrums or line outs close to their line. This Barry failed to do and they paid the price.

There was no shortage of individual effort from the likes of O’Sullivan, Tom Poole, Alyn Evans and Scott. However, Barry now conceded the try of the match following a move by the Cardiff side, which covered the length of the field. Following this reverse, the home team imploded with a red card for Ryan and a yellow one for Adams. Old Illtydians did what Barry had not when faced with a below-strength pack: they opted for scrum after scrum, pinning Barry back deep in their own territory. The inevitable result was a penalty try to round off the afternoon.

The final score line flattered the visitors but they deserved victory if only for adapting their pattern of play to reflect changing circumstances.

Barry: Adams, Alex Evans, Buckland, Provis, Poole, Ryan, Thorn, Tanner, Hadfield, Jones (capt), Deguara, King, Hollister, Alyn Evans, O’Sullivan. Reps: O Poole, Scott, Hoskins and Dix.

Next Saturday is a SWALEC Bowl away game. Please keep in contact with the club for further details.