Barkers Butts 7 Evesham 14
Midlands Two West (South)
EVESHAM cemented their place in the top half with a gritty victory at their Coventry hosts on Saturday.
The Avonsiders would have been overtaken in the table by their opponents had they lost, but that was not the case and a fourth win in five games leaves Nathan Chambers’ side with aspirations of catching fifth placed Leamington having been in a battle for survival at Christmas.
Having overcome their opponents by just one point at home earlier in the season, Evesham were well aware of the threat Barkers Butts posed, so the Vale side were eager to dominate the set piece to limit the amount of clean ball their hosts had.
This plan was reinforced in the early stages of the game as Barkers Butts showed their intentions to play an open and expansive attacking game.
The first half was an exceptionally exciting and tense affair as both teams had breaks, openings and chances but, despite these, the score remained 0-0 on the brink of half time.
Usually this would denote a slow and turgid affair but instead the scoreline was a testament to the defence and endeavour of both sides.
In the final stages of the first half, Evesham forced some pressure on to their hosts and from some quick lineout ball the visitors punched into the hosts’ defensive line.
Then, when looking to recycle quick ball, Barkers Butts were forced to concede a penalty and this allowed fly half Mike Diston to kick his team into a 3-0 lead at the break.
Looking to use the elements to their advantage in the second half, Evesham seeked to pin their opponents back and, as this pressure ensued, Barkers Butts were perhaps guilty of trying to play too much rugby in their own half and conceded a penalty which Diston converted to make it 6-0.
From the restart, a lack of concentration invited Barkers Butts pressure and, after retaining their own kick-off, the hosts attacked with pace and intent.
After numerous phases, they were able to cross in the corner and a difficult conversion successfully negotiated gave them a 7-6 lead.
However, relying on the same game plan which was proving fruitful, Evesham camped deep in the Barkers Butts half. Again, from aggressive defence, Evesham won a third kickable penalty which replacement Mike Harris slotted over to put his side 9-7 up.
Not content with a two-point lead, Evesham soon returned to the Barkers Butts half knowing a further score could seal the win.
With Harris kicking Evesham deep into the home half and with Evesham hammering the Barkers Butts carrier back, the hosts were reduced to playing out of their own dead-ball area.
Scrum half Dan Humpston, using his knowledge of the rules, pounced on a ball at the back of the Barkers Butts ruck to dot down for a cheeky score which was the final one of the game.
Evesham resume league action on February 17 (2.15pm) with the visit of Berkswell & Balsall.