With our scheduled fixture unable to go ahead, we took advantage of an opportunity to travel up the A39 and play in North Devon’s version of the ‘El Clasico’ against neighbours Barnstaple.
Prior to the main event, we integrated with the Barum players and took part in a joint training session which I’m sure all enjoyed!
Both sides had healthy numbers, so 2 pitches and 2 matches each were up for grabs! We welcomed Alice, Zachary, Poppy, Warwick and Oscar in for their first games of the season.
On Mark & Slim’s pitch, Bideford started off very strongly, with some great runs and hard tackling. Oliver Bloodworth was superb throughout, hitting the ball from depth and speed, darting through the defensive line scoring some superb tries. The whole team dynamics were strong with every player doing their role. Some great passing play and phases saw Jacob crashing the ball up with Oli Jackson passing it out quickly for William Slee to jink through the gap. Oscar made a bullocking run from his own line knocking over a couple of Barnstaple players who got in the way but unfortunately dropped the ball over the line. Cole White tackled well in defence alongside Henry Morris and Lotty Hill. Oli Rhoades continued the momentum of keeping the Bideford players moving forward with some strong runs.
This was a brilliant team performance with great defending and attacking. The players worked their socks off and entertained the travelling supporters.
With Rich, Chris and myself, a combination of hangovers, rule tweaks and rolling subs disrupted the flow and meant we were a little slow off the mark.
Jack Hastings lead the line in defence with some excellent line speed work and crazy running, supported by the ever impressive Albert, whose tackling saved the day on many occasions. With ball in hand, Poppy was able to boss the attacking line enabling the strong running Noah to set off on a series of productive gallops.
With juices now flowing, we moved across to the second match, where we were much improved. The players showed some commendable versatility, each adapting to playing in different positions when the need arose. Collectively, the defensive effort was much better, with the line speed forcing Barnstaple in to some errors. Freddy carried the ball with his usual passion, taking a number of defenders with him most of the time. Warwick carried strong and with a few cute off loads was able to send the runners up pitch.
Matthew excelled with ball in hand, jinking his way through the tacklers, and tackled well all morning. Alice had a cracking game, also running with purpose, linking well with Jack M who ran hard and put a decent shift in tidying things up. Zachary used the open space to his advantage, looking dangerous going forward, running with real purpose, and also tackled well when called upon against the strong Barum counter attack.
Thanks to Barnstaple for hosting us last minute, and thanks to Stevie Slee who was there with camera in hand to take some cracking photos of his grandchildren against each other, and his favourite son. He also took photos of Mark.