Yesterday marked the first UH derby for the 1st XV, played away against GKT. The sun was shining and Honor Oak Park was in its best condition in years.
Kicking off first with the sun on their backs, Barts sent it deep into the oppositions 22. GKTs intensity started high and whilst all the rugby was played in GKTs half their strong line out combined with lack of discipline from the boys in black and white resulted in two punishing 3-pointers in quick succession.
Barts returned to their camping position in GKTs half, and with GKT unable to handle the intimidating Barts scrum an in form David Bull was able to bring the score level at 6-6.
The hard running 15 Rory Hammond saw his fun ended by a rolled ankle, resulting in Barts’ only backs replacement coming off the bench. Fingers were crossed for no more injuries.
The possession and territory advantage Barts were able to maintain, but under the watchful eye of a ref of 22 years experience GKT were able to squander Barts’ point scoring opportunities for a hard fought 10 minutes. A slightly frustrated Barts was then able to convert their territory into points with a patient run of phases which saw winger Sam Wigens demonstrating his finishing ability in the corner for his 4th try in 2 games.
A rare miss from the touch line for Dave Bull, 11-6 to Barts at half time.
The second half points scoring was started off with a pass going to ground in the Barts centres around the half way line. This clever move had its desired effect of disorganising the GKT defence, allowing fresh out of school outside centre Anthony Stratford to slice through for a strong 25 yards, before needing the backup of fellow fresher Teni Adeola. A fantastic pick up from his shins immediately followed by an instinctive hand off shot him through the 22. The ever present Sam Robinson received the offload to score an aesthetic and well deserved try under the posts. 18-6 to Barts.
In classic Barts fashion, niggles worsened and an injury crisis ensued. With no backs subs left a reorganisation resulted in our fly half playing at 9 before being stricken with cramp. Our 13 went to 9, our 7 went to 11, our 6 went to 10, our 8 went to 12, our 1 went to 8, and the human wrecking ball Caleb came on at 1 for 15 minutes of his signature emphatic boshes and shoulder charges (no card given).
With 12 forwards on the pitch and a number of firsts position-wise, the boys on the sideline were praying for the boys to kill some time for the remaining 15 minutes. GKT came back strong and put some points on the board but their enthusiasm was short lived. Realising the best defence is a good offence, the makeshift back line turned on the afterburners and demonstrated some fantastic individual skill to run another 3 tries past the GKT medics and physios.
The full time whistle couldn’t come soon enough for the boys in yellow and green, stopping Barts just short of the half century at 48-21.
A great game to watch and a well deserved win. Special mention to Theo Clarkke for his debut start and being solid for all 80 mins, Sam Wigins for his 5th try in 2 games, and Fresher George Nichols with a big impact on his debut off the bench. Man of the match is impossible to pick - Sam Robinson and freshers Teni Adeola and Luke Williams were absolute workhorses and fantastic throughout.
A great day and a great night. Well done all involved and here’s to more days like yesterday.
Written by Jasper Evans, 1st Team Vice-Captain