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Carew unable to dent magnificent tackling

RUGBY: Seaton Carew 28 Barnard Castle 17

CASTLE’S shoots of improvement continued to develop against a side that had looked impressive when they visited the Demesnes earlier in the season but who had to work hard to overturn a Castle side who threatened to pull off a shock win in the reverse fixture.

At no time during the game did the Carew crowd feel comfortable that their team, lying fourth in the league, would be victorious. There was much discussion from the generous hosts over beers at the end of the game at how well Barney had played.

It was a topsy, turvy game which fluctuated back and forth over 80 minutes. The lessons Castle need to learn are simple:When you have good chances you must convert them into points. No matter how frustrated you may get with the referee you must shrug your shoulders and get on with it. That’s the game.

The home side started strongly on a beautiful afternoon for rugby. The snow still lying in the gullies seemed a distant memory as the side with one or two changes from the previous week stepped out in the comparative warmth with the sun shining on their backs.

For all their early scrum and territorial domination, Carew were unable to break through some magnificent Castle tackling and one hit by skipper Mike Hughes was particularly awesome albeit he somehow got penalised for it.

Fortunately, the Carew goal kicking was as woeful in the first half as it was excellent in the second and Castle escaped two easy penalty chances and gradually worked their way back into the game with some strong runs from their own back row players, Gary Beck featuring particularly strongly. After 25 minutes, Carew worked their way close enough to the Castle try line to finally force their way over and gain a 5-0 lead which was almost immediately cut to 5-3 as they infringed on their own ten metre line and Adam Haynes slotted over his first points for a couple of games.

Barney were definitely on the up at this point but failed to take two excellent scoring opportunities. First, Jack Clarke’s excellent break did not get the needed pass out to Adam Firmin who would have had the simplest of run ins.

Minutes later Adam Gardner’s break repeated the opportunity. This time the pass came but could not be held. The pressure was maintained though and with a scrum against the head further good phases of play saw fly-half Jimmy Atkinson jink through and force his way past the cover tackler. He is growing in confidence after a lengthy sabbatical.

Seaton Carew worked hard to get back into the game but their continuity was not great and with Bill Neville ruling the lineout and the scrummage steadying, Castle stood firm until the break leading 5-10.

The home side got a bit of a wake up call from their frustrated coach at the break and started the second half strongly. They were soon dominating play again and overhauled Castle with a penalty and a well-worked try squeezed over right in the corner but well converted.

For a while their slim 15-10 advantage saw both sides playing nervously but eventually they found a gap down the left wing again and stretched away out of bonus point territory 20-10.

Castle were still having to play most of the game in their own half –not helped when Adam Gardner was yellow carded for a team offence. But suddenly a well-crafted chip out of defence by James Raper – perhaps at the age of 17 years and two months one the youngest players to stride the first team turf –was followed up with a text book tackle on the catcher.

The Carew fullback’s hurried clearance kick was charged down and collected on the run by fullback Adam Firmin who scorched the turf on his way to the Seaton sticks. Haynesy added the extras and suddenly there was spring in the Barney step at 20-17.

A well-known sporting adage is that sides are always at their most vulnerable after they have scored. Point taken. Almost from the kick off Barney’s tackles were missed for the first time in the game and a Seaton player waltzed through their defence to go over to the left of the posts. Surprisingly the kick was missed but a penalty soon after stretched the lead to 28-17.

Even with ten minutes still remaining it was always going to be a big ask for Castle, especially with flyhalf Atkinson now off injured.

Even then there appeared to be hope as Barney got good field position at the death. But as they frantically tried to offload the ball ricocheted forward not far from the Carew corner and the game was gone.

There was huge disappointment within the team but all in all the signs are good for the coming weeks starting with the visit of bottom of the table Winlaton this Saturday. All the players will be keen to recreate some of beautifully flowing phases of Saturday’s  play but must learn from their mistakes and ensure they do not take Winlaton for granted.

A good win on Saturday should set them up nicely for a resurgent end to the season. Don’t take my word for it, ask Seaton Carew.


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