Somerset Premier

Minehead Barbarians 27, Burnham-on-Sea 24

MINEHEAD Barbarians produced a superb performance on Saturday, to hand runaway league leaders Burnham-on-Sea their first defeat of the campaign - and their first in a league game since January 2019.

The hosts' success was built on a dominant showing by the forward pack, allied to strong defensive commitment across the team.

The Minehead front row of Swann, Norman and Mollitt gave their opponents a tough afternoon, and ensured front-foot ball for their team all day.

Playing good teams needs the confidence of experience, and Charlie Walker-Blair, Ryan Lewis and Swann brought that.

They never took a backward step and made bone-shaking tackles to dent the confidence of the high-flying visitors.

The Barbarians took the lead after 10 minutes, as sustained pressure won them a series of penalties, and from an attacking lineout fast ball found Walker-Blair in midfield.

The former Exeter Chiefs player drove hard towards the line and, when he was stopped just short, Ryan Lewis secured an unconverted try.

Burnham worked hard to build their play, but found the Barbarians defence uncompromising, stopping them on the gain line repeatedly.

In the scrums, the home side also had a vital edge throughout the game.

Minehead extended their lead later in the half, as strong carries by skipper Willes and White took them up to the line.

A 5m scrum saw Minehead surge forward over the line, with Lewis gaining his second score.

An outstanding try came straight from the restart; Willes, Walker-Blair and Lewis carried strongly, before the ball was moved wide.

Gower got onto the outside of the defence and fed Kyle Lewis, who made ground and then fed Hole to sprint in for the converted try, making it 17-0 at half-time.

As might have been expected from an unbeaten team, Burnham came back with a bang after the interval.

Within minutes of the restart the visitors had scored twice through Luke Gowan and Sam Lewis - to make it 17-14 - and Minehead were struggling to get their hands on the ball.

Worse still, the Barbarians lost Walker-Blair to the sin bin for 10 minutes.

Minehead started to steady the ship, by bringing on replacements Bullard, Winter and Claydon, but still the Burnham pressure resulted in another try from Stefan Pierce, and now they led 19-17.

To the Barbarians’ great credit, having let the lead slip, they struck back instead of crumbling.

A well-rested Walker-Blair carried hard, and then after recycled ball he threw a miss-pass to Hole on the wing, who raced past the cover defence to score.

Having scored a fourth try to guarantee a bonus point, Minehead now aimed to secure victory, and it was fitting that it was Walker-Blair who extended the lead further.

The hosts drove forward from a lineout and, as it slowed, Walker-Blair peeled off and forced his way over.

The league leaders came back once more and collected a fourth try, Gowan forcing his way over for his second, and closing the gap to three points.

With five minutes remaining the Barbarians fought to keep their lead, and defended with everything they had.

A vital turnover, a tackle from Claydon, and the final whistle saw them home.

This was a truly great day for the team, and the club, and they remain third in the table - four points off second-placed Nailsea & Backwell, with a game in hand.

This coming Saturday sees them travel to Nailsea, for a second crunch fixture in successive weeks.

Western Counties West

Penryn 20, Wellington 12

WELLINGTON travelled deep into Cornwall last Saturday and came unstuck against a well organised and clinical Penryn side, writes Allyn Chetland.

Playing up the slope on a heavy pitch, the Red & Blacks started well, pinning Penryn deep into their own half for the first 15 minutes.

However, it was the hosts who opened the scoring from their first visit into the away team’s half via a penalty.

With the game being played in and around Penryn’s 22, it looked like Wellington would be the next to score but they were denied by resolute and disciplined defence.

When Penryn did get their hands on the ball, they attacked with purpose and on a rare visit into the R&Bs’ 22 they exploited this chance fully, crossing for a close-range converted try just before the half-time whistle, to make the score 10-0.

Wellington started the second half with purpose, camping deep in Penryn territory.

Flanker Liam Phillips crossed for their first try of the match following prolonged pressure on Penryn’s line, but the extra points could not be taken.

The R&Bs were thwarted by more solid defence and their task was made even more difficult when Penryn crossed for an unconverted try to extend the lead to 15-5.

With 15 minutes remaining it was the R&Bs who again held the upper hand in territory and possession, but they were dealt a hammer blow when the hosts scored the try of the match, running in from 65 metres for a delightful unconverted try.

Wellington did not give up and played their best, most direct rugby in the final 10 minutes of the game.

These efforts were rewarded when second row Regan Walker crashed over for a try, which was converted by full-back Rob Hooper, in the dying minutes.

The restart was regathered and the R&Bs surged forward with purpose, with a well organised attack and an overlap, but the final pass could not be taken and the game ended 20-12 to Penryn.

Despite having dominated in the tight play, and having the better of territory and possession throughout, it was a difficult afternoon for Wellington against a Penryn side desperate for victory.

The R&Bs’ cause was not helped when in-form centre Vinny Gordon left the field just before half-time with a nasty cut to the face.

This coming Saturday, Welly will look to bounce back when Saltash are the visitors to The Athletic Ground (2.30pm).

Wellington: Marke, Dyke, M Walker, R Walker, Venn, Hancock, Phillips, Kitto, Goldstone, Jarman, Pitman, Hodgson, Gordon, Hart, Hooper, Davey, Bellamy, Lee.

Western Counties (W)

Teignmouth 55, Wiveliscombe 0

WIVELISCOMBE suffered their heaviest defeat of the season against a well-drilled Teignmouth side who made it eight wins in a row, writes Roger Bellamy.

The visitors competed well enough for the first quarter of the game, with their pack giving a good account of themselves in both scrums and line outs.

Wivey held their own in these areas of the game throughout but the home team were far superior in broken play with their forwards and threes the much stronger with ball in hand going forward.

Tries in the first half were scored by Alex Ford, Will Sowden, Luke Pattison and hooker Pete Parsons. Dan Force converted three for a 26-0 half-time lead.

Teignmouth carried on in the same vain in the second half, scoring a further five tries through Sowden - who completed his hat-trick - Dan Force and Luke Pattison.

Sowden added a further three conversions.

Wivey had a few periods of pressure but failed to cross the home team’s try line.

This Saturday, Wivey host Falmouth while their 2nds - without a game last weekend after Tor 2nds failed to raise a team - welcome Wyvern (both 2.30pm).