Barking 22 Jersey 20
Every dog has their day, and Barking's canine command
performance meant Jersey's winning run, which stretched back 18
games to the Indian summer of October 1st, came to a crashing end
in East London.
It was a try by Jersey old boy Andrew Henderson that upset the
form-book, and the league standings, in the final minute. The
captain's try levelled the match at 20-20, and Chris Ashwin held
his nerve to land the winning conversion.
The match was tight throughout, with the biggest margin achieved
in the first quarter when Ross Broadfoot's penalty and an Ed Dawson
try, converted by Broadfoot, put the Islanders 10-0 up. But Barking
hit back with a try by Dodge and at half-time it was 5-10.
Both sides scored early tries in the second-half, Barking taking
a momentary lead by 12-10 but then Nathan Hannay crossed to make it
12-15 in Jersey's favour.
Nick Trower's try stretched the margin to 12-20, but Ashwin kept
Barking in touch with a penalty (15-20), setting the scene for the
dramatic late score against 14-man Jersey, who had lost captain
Steve O'Brien to the sin-bin.
Both Mike Le Bourgeois and Nicky Griffiths made their comebacks
from injury for the visitors off the bench.
Jersey's bonus point takes the Islanders' total to 95, ahead of
Ealing (91) who won a topsy-turvey game at Cambridge by 63-37,
having trailed with a few minutes to go. Fylde had a tough
afternoon at Cov but grabbed a late try BP in losing 39-26. So they
have 87 points.
Jersey have a week's break from competitive action before
hosting Cambridge on Saturday March 24th.
Meanwhile Barking gave themselves a chance to escape relegation,
although they remain 22 points clear of safety and will need to win
all their remaining games to complete an unlikely escape. However
this isn't to diminish their achievement in defeating Jersey.
Graham Holland was one of the band of
travelling supporters at Barking; here's his take on the
Barking (a) The day we got bitten.
Saturday saw us in the sunny east end of London playing the
bottom side, Barking, which is actually situated in Dagenham.
Arriving at the ground I was surprised to see only the home side
warming up, usually Jersey are on the pitch stretching out the
travel gremlins; perhaps they had a lie in Saturday morning?!
The ground was a similar set-up to ours, a clubhouse with
balcony on one side and stand on the other, the main difference
being a couple of thousand people. I reckon there were less than
300 present and a third of them had travelled across the water, and
I don't mean the Thames.
The lack of atmosphere seemed to transmit through to the team who
showed little urgency in the early skirmishes.
Jersey bossed the first quarter without really threatening the
try line but the longer it stayed scoreless the more confident
Barking became, so it was a relief when Ross put over a
straightforward penalty. 0-3.
Five minutes later Jersey built up their first flowing move and
Daws did well to burst between two tackling defenders and touch
down. Ross converted well. 0-10.
Barking fought back and a good run from winger Steve Hihetah
started a period of pressure on the Jersey try-line. The home side
were patient and built quite a few phases before centre Alex Dodge
found the gap they were looking for and scored out wide. Ashwin
failed to convert. 5-10.
One moment of note in the first half was Ben Evans finding
himself in possession with no defenders between him and the
try-line. The only problem was he still had 50 metres to run, so
the old pro used his head instead of his legs and kicked for touch,
gaining 20 metres.
With the sun shining brightly, Jersey avoided the changing rooms
and held the half time team talk in the centre of the pitch.
Although the lead was slender, Jersey had plenty in hand and so it
looked to be a good time to re introduce Mikey Le Bourgeois.
The second half started with Barking in the ascendency and a
slip by our new stand-off created the space for home side hooker
Francis Ambrose to belie this bulk and score a good try to put
Barking level. Chris Ashwin put over a good conversion, and
suddenly we were behind 12-10.
Back came Jersey, Mikey showed some neat footwork as he danced
past a couple of midfielders to start a move that culminated with
Nathan powering over for a try under the posts. This was just what
Mikey needed: his first conversion for 3 months right in front of
the posts, but disaster struck when he slipped as he struck the
ball, and the conversion looked more akin to a penalty at
Springfield. But at least we were back in the lead. 12-15.
The Jersey forwards now had the bit between their teeth and
before long Nathan was powering his way forward again, this time he
was stopped a foot short, and then spilled the ball over the line.
The visiting pack was dominant at the set scrum and it was no
surprise when they forced the Barking forwards back over their own
line for Barrel to touch down for a text book pushover try. Mikey
must have tweaked something so Brycie took over the kicking duties,
but the novice kicker hooked it well wide from in front of the
posts. That was now 4 points gone begging. 12-20.
Barking had a small spell of possession which resulted in them
gaining a penalty. Ashwin had no trouble putting it over to keep
his team in touching distance. 15-20.
A couple of changes to the Jersey pack didn't slow down the
onslaught. Owen (even my Irish granny wouldn't spell his name
properly!) and Geths replacing the tiring Toby and Big Ben, and
Nick coming on for Macca. Jersey attacked in waves and Barking
defended well helped by some wayward passing and the referee's
persistent whistling for minor infractions. With time running out,
what looked to be an inch perfect pass put Mylo in space two yards
out but as the young prop dived over the touch judge was flagging
furiously for a forward pass. Tough call. Tight call.
What looked to be the final Jersey attack came to an end when
Barking intercepted an off load and fed Hendo out wide. He flew
deep into Jersey territory but a touch from Daws slowed him down
and enabled Magga to pounce on him, but in doing so conceded a
penalty. Three points were no good to Barking, so it was a tap and
go and a drive at the Jersey back line. The move ended with Stevie
knocking on, which the ref deemed deliberate and out came the
yellow, off went the skipper.
Again Barking tap the penalty but this time they knocked on.
Scrum - Jersey put in. Win this and kick for touch: game over, and
game won. Unbelievably Barking won the scrum against the head and
the ball went wide for Hendo to score in the corner. Chris Ashwin
held his nerve to kick a good conversion to give Barking an
unexpected win. 22-20.
Man of the match has to go to Hendo, he deserves his chance with
England Counties this Friday. Jersey's best player, by a distance
for me, was big Nathan.
Jersey had lost a game in which they had the lion's share of
possession but had often struggled to convert it into points. Two
missed conversions and a disallowed try were crucial.
Barking never gave up and were always dangerous on the break and
despite not seeing much of the ball when they did have it they made
It was good to see James Ellershaw at the match, he looked in
good nick considering what he's been through.
The title race is open again but it is still ours to lose. Three
home games and two tough away matches to come. A family wedding
stops me travelling to the north east but the Coventry flights are
booked with the hope of seeing the boys crowned champions. Despite
this defeat it may still happen. Keep the faith.
29 Sep 2023
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