A last minute fixture arrangement saw Barnet visit Hemel Hempstead for an A and B fixture on the muddy fields at Chaulden Lane - The pitch was heavy underfoot, but with glorious winter sunshine conditions were perfect for some good old fashioned bruising rugby
First up was a clash of the B's in a highly entertaining match in which both sides showed a battling determination to out-muscle their opposite numbers. Camelot were strong going into the rucks and making the ball available, but too often they were slow going in to claim the ball and as a result conceded possession.
The team was strengthened by debutant Julius who added extra power to the drives and Camelot threatened to break through when Daisy picked up a loose ball and weaved past several Barnet defenders before being stopped. In the very muddy conditions it was power that opened the scoring, Ben receiving the ball 5 metres out and showing no inclination to do anything other than drive for the line, twisting round a couple of defenders to ground the ball with one hand.
Camelot definitely had the power advantage, but conceded an equaliser from a good passing move by Barnet that created space on the wing for an easy score. However, Camelot were ahead again before the break, Ben once again using his strength and power to force his way through and ground the ball under a pile of defenders. 2-1 on the stroke of half-time.
After the break Barnet continued to come away with the ball more often than not from the rucks, but were unable to do anything with it when they did and it was in fact Camelot who increased the lead when the strong rucking was actually supported with some good hands - Conor, picking the ball out, finding a good pass to Daisy who spotted George running down the wing, a perfectly timed move found George sprinting to the corner to make it 3-1 to the home side.
It was looking as though Camelot should hold out for the win, but somehow a Barnet player sneaked through the pack to score. Moments later Barnet again stole the ball from a maul, found space outside and broke through for the equaliser. Game on.
The result swung back in Camelot's favour when Ben completed his hat-trick, once again using his extra power to barge his way through, this time from more like 15 metres out. With time running out Barnet struck straight back with an equaliser and then with the final play of the match the visitors took the lead for the first time in the game and stole an unlikely victory in what had been a hard fought and entertaining fixture.
FT: Camelot 4-5 Barnet
Tries: Ben 3, George
By the time the A fixture came around the pitch was even heavier and muddier, requiring good use of the space and extra strength in the rucks and mauls.
Camelot enjoyed the best of the possession, but nearly fell behind when a nippy Barnet winger evaded several tackles and looked to be sprinting through to score until Rocket Norman lunged in with a last ditch tackle to knock the player out of play. Back in possession Hemel went on the attack, camping on the Barnet 5 metre line, looking for a way through. A couple of times that extra pass wide could have created the opening, but instead the decision was made to cut back into the pack and take an impact. Eventually the ball did move along the line, finding the Rocket in his more accustomed position of receiving the ball wide and using his space to sprint to the line and score. 1-0.
That lead was soon doubled with another strong move pushing the defence back until the Forwards were close enough for James I to use his strength to push anything away that tried to block his path to the try line, grounding perfectly to make it 2-0.
The second-half was a very different match, no less competitive, but it was Barnet that had the upper hand - Stronger in combat and passing the ball around quicker and smarter. A quick break away saw them halve Camelot's lead and then late on they deservedly equalised with a smart passing move that found space on the wing for an easy score.
As the clock ticked down both teams looked for a winner, but defences held out and the draw proved to be a fair result.
FT: Camelot 2-2 Barnet
A fine morning's rugby between two competitive, evenly matched sides in conditions very much suited to the Forwards - reflected in the player of the week awards that were presented in the clubhouse post-match to new player Julius and hat-trick scorer, Ben.