Barns Green returned to winning ways on Saturday 13th October, with a 13-7 home victory against local rivals, St Francis.
Playing into the wind, Green hoped the dry conditions would suit their open style of play, but ill-discipline saw St Francis claim territorial advantage early in the first half. Both sides were struggling to gain any fluency, with hard defence and unforced errors dictating play. Although the hosts were able to repel several waves of opposition attack, mistakes meant Green continued to squander promising positions.
The midfield duo of Matt Sprigge and Matt Hoyte continued to push for gaps, with strong support in the tight from Harry Davies and Mark Brown, however, points remained hard to come by. The introduction of Mike Mann gave Green the impetus they needed. A few strong carries from the replacement number 8 gave better structure, eventually helping scrum-half Chris Bailey to release George Wilson for the first score of the game. 5-0 at half time and all to play for.
Sadly, with the wind behind them, Green were caught napping early in the second half. Panic at the back led to a speculative kick, which St Francis were able to run back and score. At 5-7 Green needed to rally, and rally they did. Hoyte struck soon after with a penalty to make it 8-7.
With a strong set-piece and smart kicking, Green were now able to exert territorial dominance. Davies and front-rower, Danny Conway, had the lineout working well and eventually Green broke through. Quick ball put Hoyte into space, and an audacious offload from the centre allowed Sergio Bebiano to finish smartly in the corner.
With 15 minutes to go, Green continue to press. Winger Adam Rice and back-rower Ryan Watkinson both went close, but the third try just kept eluding Green. A nervous final 5 minutes nearly saw St Francis steal the win, but the compelling game ended 13-7.
Skipper Thomas Bouet said: “Credit to St Francis, they were very physical and really put us under pressure. We put some good pieces of play together, but just didn’t click for a prolonged period of time. It’s ok to win ugly sometimes, but we’re looking forward to training and really working on our structure and execution.” Green face second place Midhurst this week, in what should be another tight match.