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Barton RFC are county champions

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: July 31, 2014

SEVENS HEAVEN ... Barton with the Staffordshire Sevens trophy.

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BARTON Rugby Club are this year's Staffordshire Sevens champions.

They went into the final round of the series at Stafford knowing that they had one hand firmly on the trophy.

But they could not afford any slip-ups as Rugeley could still pip them for the crown, needing to make the semi-finals ahead of Barton in order to steal their thunder.

Captain Matt Knight had a huge task on his hands to keep his players focused during the long and very hot tournament.

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Sevens rugby is completely different game to the 15-a-side version. Although the duration of each game is shorter, the game is played at a fast tempo.

Barton were placed in a strong preliminary group and needed to beat the hosts Stafford as well as Rugeley to ensure they won top spot in their league.

The semi-final provided the biggest test of the day against Eccleshall RUFC.

The pace of this game was fast and furious with both teams defending with passion.

It resulted in the majority of the first half being played around the centre of the pitch.

Despite Barton's attempts to feed their key pace men, both Martin Woolston and Jon Shum found it extremely difficult to break through the defensive lines.

It was therefore vital that the likes of stalwarts Mat Bayley, Chris Johnson and James Thorpe allowed no one to get past them.

Lee English also provided strong support from the bench, bringing fast and fresh legs to the team when the heat was beginning to sap their energy.

In the second half, fly half Will Simpson kicked a cheeky short grubber kick from kick off along the ground which Eccleshall fumbled.

Shum seized on the opportunity to reclaim the ball and ran through for a try under the posts.

Eccelshall were quick to respond and found a gap in Barton's defence to pull the game level.

Jon Higgins was excellent at scrum half for Barton and went on to create a number of chances.

However, just before the final whistle Eccleshall put seven more points on the board taking the final out of Barton's reach.

It was however enough for them to take the county title, the first in the young club's history.

Team manager Daniel Carlin said: "Matt Knight had a tremendous job on his hands by keeping his team focused when other teams were losing their concentration and allowing the excessive heat to distract them.

"He is a very talented player and it took a very special type of person to lead that team out today. Without his dedication we would not be County champions"

Club chairman Dick Titley was also excited by the historic win and said: "It is very rare for a village team to win such a competitive competition against much larger clubs, many of whom play at a higher level than us.

"It is a great boost for next season when we are looking for players to complement our senior sides and who will now look at us and recognise that it takes a dedicated and fit squad of players to become the champions of Staffordshire."

Anyone interested in joining Barton should visit www.bartonrugby.com for details as well as training schedules.

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