Gloucester Premier League

Barts Rugby 20 Chipping Sodbury 12

CHIPPING Sodbury knew that the toss would be crucial as Barts love to play down their hill in the second half.

The early exchanges were fairly equal and both teams were affected by the pudding of a pitch.

Alarm bells went off in the Sodbury ranks after ten minutes, when they missed touch from a penalty. Barts were able to break the line as there was some uncharacteristically weak defence from the visitors.

Tom Farthing was on hand with a brilliant cover tackle as he defied the conditions, showing surprising pace.

Barts nailed the opening points when they secured a line-out from a penalty.

Sodbury continued to look lively in attack and showed a real ambition to run the ball about.

They regularly built multiple phases, but each time a mistake saw them falter. Knock-ons, penalties and a lack of precision really cost them.

Steve Hopes was showing up all over the place. He is renowned as the go-to man at the line-out but his defensive work was feverish.

It was a Hopes line-out win on Barts 22 that gave quick ball to Dan Bradley.

He broke the line and found Dom Pullen in support.

He, in turn, fed Jon Cook, who set up a ruck. The ball was came out fast and Sodbury exploited the blindside.

The same combination of men made the same passes again, only this time Jack Skelton joined in at the end to score.

Cook converted from the touchline to rapturous applause from the Sodbury faithful.

Barts’ kicker had a much easier penalty kick minutes later from 35 metres, which saw the hosts retake the lead.

As half time loomed, Sodbury hit the turbo-boosters. They were spirited and co-ordinated as they went through ten phases, forcing the play from left to right and back again.

Barts did their best to defend the waves of attack and must have thought they had snuffed them out when they pulled down the hard-charging Ben Pullen.

The rapidly recycled ball was given to Bradley, who was cutting back across the grain and could not be denied the score.

The second- half started in similarly style.

Barts were awarded an early penalty, which they kicked for a line-out 15m away from the Sodbury line.

Initially, the defensive work fell to Tom Head, Bradley, and Dom Pullen.

They were quickly joined by Farthing. Emerging from the cloying conditions were two Goliaths of defence, who kept putting themselves on the line.

Unhappily, the Sodbury defence could not stop Barts from crashing over from close range to take the lead yet again.

The two men who were throwing down a defensive masterclass were Luke Carnaby and Jason Petchey.

Carnaby made an incredible 17 tackles during the bruising encounter, the latter broke the tackle-o-meter by making 27 tackles.

Petchey was continuously at the point of the defensive effort with a huge appetite for mowing down all comers.

The first ten minutes of the second half were torrid for Sodbury as Barts really put their local knowledge to great use.

Their repeated narrow but muscular attack forced a five metre scrum from the visitors.

The Sodbury eight showed perfect form in trying to stop Barts pushing them back.

However, once their footing slipped, they went backwards, leaving straight lines in the turf.

It was now 20–12 and Sodbury still believed they could rescue a result.

Looking toward the summit, Sodbury knew the task was anything but easy, but they went on to play expansive rugby.

Cook led the charge, creating an easy target for the pack. There were no more points for either team and Sodbury were left to rue that ten minute period after the break.