Rugby: Promise of better times ahead for depleted Barney
Durham/Northumberland Division 2
Barnard Castle........ 7
LOOKING at the score alone, it would be difficult to imagine being able to take anything positive away from the game. However, this was quite an encouraging performance by Castle against the strongest side in the league.
Guisborough arrived as league leaders, having secured bonus-point wins in all of their fixtures to date and having racked-up a huge number of points in doing so.
Castle, on the other hand, have struggled at the start of the new season with a lengthy injury list and high numbers of players who are unavailable for a variety of reasons – although many other clubs are in a similar position as Covid lockdowns have had a major impact on clubs at grass-roots level.
A youthful Barney side took the field, welcoming new signing Ralph Makepeace at fly-half, Will Birch for his debut in the unfamiliar position of second row and Rowan Hall-Beasley, who was making his return after a long lay-off.
All three players impressed throughout as Ralph displayed confidence and composure, Will played with aggression, won plenty of clean lineout ball and carried well, and Rowan was simply everywhere putting in a phenomenal number of impressive tackles on Guisborough’s large, mobile, pack.
Unsurprisingly, Guisborough opened the scoring as they crashed over from a lineout close to the Barney line.
Castle were quick to hit back, however, as excellent handling, prompted by Ralph, saw recent newcomer, Luke Cowley, jog over unopposed for the try. With James Barber slotting the difficult conversion Castle had taken an unexpected lead.
Guisborough hit back immediately with a penalty from near the halfway line. They followed this up with another try soon afterwards and then just before half time scored a try from deep within their own half after a period of Castle pressure.
At half time Barney trailed 7-22, but they had performed well and when their backs managed to secure ball they had caused Guisborough problems in defence.
As the second half began, Guisborough opened the scoring following another catch and drive and followed this up almost immediately with another well-worked try to stretch their lead.
Castle had their moments, but then lost Nick Parry and Will Birch in quick succession to injury and conceded a flurry of tries as they attempted to re-organise.
In the closing stages Barney were reduced to 14 men, after what appeared to be a somewhat harsh yellow card and a rampant Guisborough ran in more tries against a tiring Castle defence. So, the final score was 7-70, but the mood back in the clubhouse was not all doom and gloom.
New and returning players had performed admirably, with Rowan Hall-Beasley rightfully given man-of-the-match by Guisborough for his outstanding performance.
With injured and unavailable players set to return in the coming weeks and competition for places hotting-up this young side will surely enjoy better outcomes in the coming weeks.