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Barnstaple given an ear-bashing after bonus-point win

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: November 22, 2012

By Andrew Jones

  • OFFLOADING: Barnstaple wing Linford Brock slips the ball out of the back door for scrum half Ben Vellacott. Picture: Bob Collins

  • TWO ON ONE: Steve Perry makes a break for Barum. Picture: Bob Collins

  • FACE TO FACE: Will Topps takes on Luke Milton. Picture: Derek Parnell

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EVEN securing a bonus-point win by half time was not enough to spare Barnstaple a post-match ear-bashing.

Kevin Squire, the director of rugby, admitted he had given his players, to put it more politely, a piece of his mind.

The reason for the dressing-room dressing down was a poor second half in which Barum were outscored three tries to one by Malvern.

It was only thanks to the lead they had built up in a dominant first half that Barnstaple were not more rattled by the National Three south west strugglers.

"We played really good football in the first half," said Squire. "They did everything we expected them to and at half time we asked for more of the same – it was all quite positive.

"In the second half, Malvern dug deep, showed a lot of spirit and made life difficult.

"They spoilt the breakdown and slowed the ball down at ruck time but I would have thought we had more than enough to overcome that.

"That performance will not be good enough to get anything next week (at Newton Abbot).

"The pitch played its part, it was heavy going and spoilt the game as a spectacle.

"With every minute the pitch got worse and by the end it was a glue pot, but that's no excuse. We need to look at ourselves because we seemed to lose focus."

Leading 29-0, Barnstaple seemed to have switched off completely during the break.

Within eight minutes of the restart, Malvern's half backs, Tom Longley and James Southall, had both strolled through for tries converted by Longley, the fly half.

Barnstaple stretched their lead again in the 56th minute when Neil Giddy kicked to the right corner, they stole the lineout and, after a couple of drives, Winston James forced his way over for a try that Will Topps converted.

James was sin-binned in the last minute of normal time and the match finished with Malvern on the front foot, resulting in a try from the final play by Southall.

Barnstaple were so far ahead in every aspect of the game in the first half that they seemed certain to double their score in the second.

Had they shown more sharpness in attack, Barum might even have gone into half time with more than 29 unanswered points.

Losing Josh Squire, their outside centre, with an injury to his left knee after 24 minutes in which he had been instrumental in the opening two tries was a blow.

But they were able to replace him with influential player-coach Steve Perry – returning after a six-week absence with a knee injury of his own – which should hardly have weakened the back division.

In the 15th minute, Nick Miller, the Malvern inside centre, was yellow-carded for a high, swinging tackle on Squire, who had kicked an early penalty. Barnstaple made the most of their extra man.

While Miller was in the sin bin, Squire found Topps overlapping on the left wing for the first try, then continued a break by Ryan Carter before slipping a pass inside to Ben Vellacott, his scrum half, to run in a try that Squire converted.

After Squire's departure, Malvern had their only hint of a scoring chance in the first half with Longley's long-range penalty attempt ending up nowhere near the posts.

Mike Sumner ripped the ball from Miller to start a 35th-miunute attack that ended with Linford Brock, on the right wing, breaking two tackles and stumbling over the try line.

Topps took over the kicking in Squire's absence and started superbly by converting from the touchline.

In first-half stoppage time, Brock was causing problems again, this time getting out of three tackles before passing to Topps.

The full back swerved away from the remaining defenders and launched himself over the line for a try he converted.

The second half was nothing like as spectacular.

"We had got the bonus-point win under our belts and we mentally shut off, which was not very pleasing," said Squire.

"We didn't reach the levels of other performances but there is nothing to be achieved by looking too closely at it. It was ugly but it was a bonus-point win."

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