“A FANTASTIC game of rugby,” said the Devon RFU official as he presented the David Butt Memorial Trophy to Kingsbridge captain Ali Hamilton, writes Geoff Robins.
Kingsbridge were able to field an almost unchanged side from the team that had demolished Exeter Engineers 64 -5 in the semi-final.
Playing up the hill against an experienced and physical side, it was Kingsbridge who scored first after a flowing backs move, finished by Will Haddy and converted for 0-7.
The game settled into a classic contest between Barum, wanting to play a close game of ‘pick-and-drive’ versus a solid defensive game using the counter-attack, when possible, of Kingsbridge. From one of a stream of rucks the Barnstaple number 8 ran through a huge gap to score, levelling the score at 7 -7.
Barnstaple secured a good ball and chose to run it from their own half, only to be picked off cheekily by the wily Will Haddy on a perfect interception, scoring under the posts to be converted for 7-14.
This seemed to galvanise the Kingsbridge side and they were soon attacking again, striving to bring their lightning wingers into the game. They moved the ball to the left where Gareth Coombes took a pass, inside his own half, to skin his opposite player and score out wide. Half-time was 7-19.
However, from the whistle Barnstaple attacked strongly, combining forwards and backs to score a well-worked try which was converted for 14-19.
Kingsbridge knew they were in quite a battle and had to play to their strengths. It was from a solid scrum, giving quick clean ball, that allowed a delightful cross-field kick from Joe Jackson to be fielded by Noah Farrand, who needed to break two tackles before scoring close to the posts.
Converted for 14-26.
The experience and skill of Barnstaple gave them the self-belief to press hard against a resolute Kingsbridge defence, but after several phases scored a converted try to bring them to 21-26.
It would have been quite understandable for nerves to start jangling, but from a penalty two metres inside the opposition half James Baker slotted home a massive penalty, adding to his three conversions for 21-29.
Once again, the disciplined and well-organised red shirts of Barnstaple attacked and were rewarded with a try to bring the score tantalizingly close at 26-29.
The last five minutes were a cameo of the Kingsbridge side`s season; solid 100 per cent commitment from the whole team to hold out and be rewarded by a fine victory.
Thanks should go to the traveling support and all the players that have enjoyed a great season.