Wild Geese v Barnstaple: Match Report

On Saturday 1st April the Wild Geese hosted Barnstaple in National League 2 South in what was listed in all quarters as a ‘must win’ game. Unfortunately, the Wild Geese came off as runners-up by 5 points to 12 in what was a fairly mediocre game, befitting two teams at the wrong end of the table. This increases the gulf at the lower end of the table to Barnstaple being 5 points ahead, and Worthing 6 ahead, leaving the Wild Geese firmly in the relegation zone.

Report from John S Hunter

The first 30 minutes basically summed up the match: neither side troubled the score-board. The one prospect the Wild Geese had of scoring was when they went for a No8 pick-up at the base of a scrum in the opponent’s 22, rather than recognise the infinitely better possibilities of giving early ball to the backs, with the rare spatial advantage that gave them and so close to the try-line. As it was, Barnstaple opened the scoring with a penalty goal on the half-hour mark. Insult was added to injury as full-back Ollie Turner was yellow-carded for the high tackle which led to the penalty. The Wild Geese then – as has happened before when they were a man short – had their best period of the game; in the 38th minute, a forwards drive led to a try by lock George Drye, for them to take the lead 5-3. Unfortunately, Turner – the recognised goal-kicker – was in the sin bin and the conversion was missed. In stoppage time, Barnstaple added a penalty goal to go into the interval leading 6-5.

Within 5 minutes of the restart, Barnstaple scored a further penalty goal from near the half-way line, through the unerring boot of their scrum-half. The Wild Geese never really looked like scoring, with their scrum being bettered in the main, losing the odd line-out, and too many knock-ons occurring. Only some brave defence kept Barnstaple at bay. The visitors eventually kicked another penalty goal, in the 37th minute, to extend their lead to 12-5. In stoppage time, a Barnstaple player was yellow-carded in their 22. The Wild Geese opted to take a tap penalty, rather than a scrum, for the offence. This meant that that they were ignoring the prospect of giving the backs extra room to work in, and Barnstaple would have had to play a man short in their back-line to avoid the prospect of being driven over the line. With leading try-scorer and left-wing George Owen being given so little room to work in all game, this was an opportunity to give him the space he deserved, particularly as it was a middle of the pitch penalty. As it happened, the Wild Geese launched 15 men against 14 in an end-of-game free for all. The inevitable occurred.

On the brighter side for the club, it was the annual Ladies Luncheon before the game. In her speech, Ladies Chair Mary Fyfe spoke about the positive developments occurring in London Irish Ladies Rugby i.e. the link with Buckinghamshire University and the fact that they would be playing league rugby next season. We can but wish them well in their forward-looking endeavours.