FENLAND Barbarians took a huge step towards a place in the NLD Shield semi-finals by seeing off Scunthorpe U14s on Sunday.
The team – made up of boys from Bourne and Deeping Rugby Clubs – now top their pool after holding on to win 12-10 despite a spirited fightback from their visitors.
Following a month of games cancelled due to the weather, the Barbarians enjoyed a bright start in close to perfect conditions taking a 12-0 lead inside the opening 20 minutes.
The Barbarians quickly won possession and drove the Scunthorpe pack back into their own half and with just four minutes played secured a penalty five metres from the Scunthorpe line.
After setting a dummy tap and drive, they passed the ball wide for centre Sam Cheek to score under the posts. Dan Whadcock kicked cleanly between the uprights to convert and give the Barbarians a 7–0 lead.
With confidence high and the Fenland pack controlling the close game, the Barbarians backs were unleashed. Whadcock and fly half Theo Edwards fed ball after ball to the centre partnership of Cheek and Josh Flegg, who in turn cleanly offloaded to the wing.
An excellent run from Joe Warner almost made it to the corner but he found a revitalised Scunthorpe defence in his way.
A switch to the right released Harley Bycraft who nipped and tucked through the Scunthorpe backline to score in the opposite corner and extend Fenland’s lead with only 19 minutes of the game gone. The distance was too far for Whadcock to kick the conversion.
Scunthorpe applied continuous pressure from the restart and the quick thinking and solid tackling of full back Ollie Sherwin saved the day more than once for Fenland.
But in the last few seconds of the half, a foiled clearance attempt led to a well deserved, though unconverted, Scunthorpe try.
The lack of game time during December took its toll on both sides in the second half with players pulling up with muscle strains and disjointed periods of play as substitutions were made.
The forwards’ battle continued with the Barbarians edging the scrums but Scunthorpe controlling more of the open play.
With just one converted try between the sides, tension was high. Scunthorpe held the Barbarians back with replacement winger Perry Goddard stopped just 15 metres short of the line.
The resultant Barbarians penalty gave the best chance of the half but Fenland found no way through.
As the clock ticked down, Scunthorpe threw everything at the Barbarians defence and scored with just two minutes to play.
With a draw dependent on the kick, the Barbarians held their breath as the ball slipped just to the left of the posts leaving the Barbarians with a narrow 12–10 win and a three point pool advantage over the visitors.
Fenland Barbarians: Bradley Hiscocks, Aaron Wray, Tom Presneill, Patryk Danielewski, Clyde Hurst, Robert Martin, Mark Sclanders, Joe Crickmore, Dan Whadcock, Theo Edwards, Harley Bycraft, Sam Cheek, Josh Flegg (Capt), Joe Warner, Ollie Sherwin, Merren Leaper, Will Hooson, Tim Hodgson, Jack Lagdon, Ollie Dilloway, Perry Goddard, Jack Goodyear.