Yellow cards cost the Wild Geese dearly

On Saturday 14th January the Wild Geese visited Barnes in South-West London, in National League 2 South, in what was a crucial game for both teams in their efforts to move away from the ‘danger zone’ at the wrong end of the league table. Unfortunately, it was Barnes who triumphed – deservedly – but the Wild Geese cause was not helped by 2 yellow cards occasioning them to play part of the game with 13 men. During that time, Barnes scored 2 converted tries, and you don’t need to be a mathematical genius to work out the effect of that on the final score-line of 26-16 to the hosts.

Match report from John S Hunter

The Wild Geese started soundly enough, with good scrummaging and line-out work, but could not seriously threaten the try-line. How much the early loss through injury of centre Sean Cunningham had an effect on this is hard to tell, but their back play as a unit never inspired all afternoon. Out-half Pete Hodgkinson kicked a penalty goal after 11 minutes and repeated the dose after 23 minutes, to give the Wild Geese a 6-0 lead. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards an aimless punt by the same player fell into the grateful hands of their very dangerous right-wing, who had plenty of time to weigh up his options and lead a counter-attack ending up with a try, which was converted to give them the lead. Hodgkinson put the Wild Geese back in front (for the last time, as it transpired) on the 27th minute with another penalty goal to make it 9-7.  Disaster then struck for the first time when prop Eddie Fraher was yellow-carded for foul play in the 36th minute; that was followed in 2 minutes by a yellow card to centre Ben Kitching for a technical offence. To add insult to injury, Barnes then scored a try through former Wild Geese player Fraser Carlisle, which was converted. They added to that in first half injury time with another converted try to make the half-time score 21-9 to Barnes.

When the Wild Geese got back to 15 men in the second half, hope was given by a good try by left-wing George Owen in the 8th minute, which was converted by Hodgkinson. (Incidentally, the contest between Owen and his opposite number was one of the best features of the game.)  Unfortunately, the hopes were dashed, not least by poor kicking (not for the first time this season): your correspondent only noted one really good searching kick all game. Added to that, the pack never recovered their early match ascendency when back to full strength, and the back play was – to be kind – disorganised all afternoon. Barnes scored again, with a converted try, after a good break by Carlisle, but it has to be said that this came about through a bad error from the Wild Geese when in possession. That completed the scoring at 26-16 to Barnes, though for the rest of the game it was hard to see any side score but them.

If there was any good news to be had from the afternoon, it was that only Barnes and Exmouth won out of the bottom 7 sides in the table. Barnes leap-frog the Wild Geese in the table and our slow slide downwards continues. It is no relief to note that we now have a series of fixtures against teams well above us in the league. After a dismal showing such as this, it is probably the last thing we need to know!