With just four games of the campaign remaining, the Old Boys travel to Paton Field looking for a bonus point victory which would maintain the pressure on league leaders Ampthill who face a tough home clash against third placed Rosslyn Park.
While a defeat for Ampthill would throw the title race wide open again, OEs captain (pictured) is looking no further than the sizeable challenge presented by a Caldy side who are also in desperate need of a victory in their battle to pull away from the relegation zone.
“There was obviously a level of disappointment in the wake of our defeat to Ampthill, but the boys have been great and no one is moping around feeling sorry for themselves,” Barton said. “All we can do is look after our results and if something goes our way then all the better! At this stage of the season when there are so many teams with so much to play for, you never know what might happen so all we can do is focus solely on winning our games and make sure if something goes our way we can pounce!”
He continued: “Caldy are a team who have been together for some time and as a result they are very hard to beat. They scrap until the bitter end and make your life as an opposition tough in all aspects of the game. At home and with the added motivation of trying to avoid relegation they will be an even more difficult assignment for us. In the three previous fixtures against them I have always come off knowing that we have been in a physical scrap."
In last year’s fixture at Paton Field, Barton was among the try-scorers as Elthamians moved into a commanding 21-12 lead at the interval. But a below par second half display saw OEs sent crashing to an emphatic 32-24 defeat.
“I have tried to do everything in my power to forget that particular game so thank you for reminding me!” Barton said. “We will approach this weekend in the same way we have every game this season – we are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of our opponents but know that if we execute our systems well we should be in with a good shout of winning. We have been in decent form in 2019 and should take confidence from last weekend so hopefully will go up there and play our brand of rugby.”
OEs go into tomorrow’s game buoyed by last Saturday's impressive 31-3 victory over Cambridge which Barton admits went someway to eradicating the memory of the defeat to title rivals Ampthill.
“It was pleasing to bounce back with a good win particularly as we had a fortnight to stew on the Ampthill result,” Barton said. “We were much more effective in the contact area in both defence and attack which meant we won the battle of the gain line consistently and ultimately determined the result.”
It was a dominant scrummaging performance which laid the platform for the victory and Barton admits the scrum will be pivotal again at Caldy. When the two sides met at College Meadow at the beginning of December, although Elthamians ran out comfortable 34-7 winners, the scrum was an area in which Caldy gained the upper hand.
“They will certainly target the scrum as an area they might obtain an advantage,” Barton said, “but I would say our scrum is probably the area in which we have improved on the most over the course of the season and as shown last Saturday it has become a weapon for us. The set piece will be crucial, if we can gain the upper hand and lay a foundation for our back line we it should, hopefully, make for a good afternoon.”
Caldy v Old Elthamians kicks off at 3pm tomorrow.
Follow us on twitter @elthamiansrfc for all the latest news and scores throughout the afternoon.
Updated 11:58 - 1 Apr 2019 by Jon Edwards