06:00 Tuesday 17 December 2013

Barton beat Redditch to stay in title chase

Written bySPORTS REPORTER

PROMOTION-chasing Barton RFC won at Redditch to maintain their interest in the Midlands Four West (South) title battle.

The village side built on their terrific win over leaders Harbury a week earlier with a dogged performance on Saturday in their final league clash of 2013.

Stand-in skipper Jonathan Higgins said: “This was another hard-fought match in which the forwards had their work cut out from the start.

“But we were able to manage superbly at the breakdown and set pieces.

“Although scrappy at times, we’re really pleased to win on our first ever trip to Redditch and finish 2013 on a high.

“We now look forward to a massive game onSaturday against Rugby Lions in the RFU Junior Vase.

“We hope Saturday’s win will create a great buzz around the rugby supporters in the village to carry on through to the game on Saturday.

“It’s a game myself as well as all the players can’t wait to get stuck into.”

The first 15 minutes at Redditch was a closely fought affair with both teams being penalised for what the referee deemed inaccurate throwing at the line-out.

This ground the game to a halt which seemed to suit Redditch.

Their influential fly-half made a darting run for the corner and a slow defensive line speed meant that he managed to muscle through to score the opening try.

Barton’s centres Ian Lancaster and Lee Coton provided some much-needed dynamic impetus in the game.

This started with Lancaster making a fine run into the midfield, fending off two or three defenders to then neatly offload to Cotton, who again managed to resist a couple of Redditch defenders to score a well-worked try. Jon Shum then finished an awkward conversion.

This was the perfect riposte and in the next 10 to 15 minutes Barton grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck with some good runs again coming from the two centres along with some good work off the wings from Martin Woolston and Dave Palin.

These phases of play then led to the ever-present James Thorpe scoring another nicely crafted try. Shum again added the extras.

Barton took a 14-5 lead into half-time, but knowing that Redditch were well in the game.

The second half started as Barton feared, with Redditch starting the brighter and earning themselves a penalty straight in front of the posts which their fly-half duly converted to make it 14-8.

Unfortunately, Barton this time did not bounce back with the same panache and Redditch began to get a foothold in the game, keeping the ball in the tight, a style which does not suit the visitors.

As a result, the game became very stagnant for the next 15 minutes, with neither side making any gains.

This was until the Redditch fly-half once again put a clever kick over into unoccupied territory for their centre to collect. He then offloaded to the full-back, who managed to shrug off the attempts of covering Barton defenders to cross the line.

Like the previous week against Harbury, the opposition had got back to within a point.

Moments later, Barton fly-half Jamie Maxwell went off injured.

This meant that Matt Knight, on his return game, came on into the centres, with Lancaster moving to 10.

Knight wasted no time in getting his hands on the ball to finally get Barton moving.

This allowed the forwards to make yards over the next couple of phases, tying Redditch’s defence into rucks.

This opened up spaces in the home rearguard, which scrum-half Jonathan Higgins exploited by dummying and scoring under the posts.

With the conversion coming from Shum, Barton once again had an eight-point safety cushion.

Barton held off a determined Redditch fightback and managed to dominate the last passages of play.

Higgins put Matt Bloxham into space and he kicked on for Higgins to chase, only for him to knock-on five metres out, unfortunately costing Barton a bonus point.

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