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Worcester Wanderers edged out at Barnstaple
8:00pm Tuesday 8th October 2013 in Sport
WORCESTER Wanderers returned home with a hard-earned bonus point from their long trip to Barnstaple in National League Three South West.
They produced a fine squad performance with all 18 players contributing at one of the rugby union division’s pace-setters before eventually falling 24-19.
There was even a justified hint of disappointment that the industrious Wanderers did not get more from the game.
Fourth-placed Barnstaple had made a great start to the season and were oozing confidence.
Within 60 seconds, they exploited a two-on-one on the blindside to score a converted try under the posts.
But Wanderers regrouped and did not panic as the game settled down. A penalty went off target before Tom Dodge was driven over following a line-out although brother Mike missed the conversion.
Wanderers were wayward with two more penalties before Barnstaple breached their defence for a second converted try.
Although the hosts were in the ascendency, they were mostly well marshalled by Worcester’s defence.
A Barnstaple penalty opened up a 12-point advantage at the break.
Wanderers began the second-half with intent and debutant Jonny Dawson entered the fray for Chris Flanders, who had a busy first period.
Dawson maintained the standard and Wanderers launched another attack from a close-range line-out to drive over.
James Gunther emerged from the mass of bodies with the ball and Mike Dodge converted to narrow the gap.
Wanderers lost Russ Marsland to injury and another debutant Rhys Coles took his place, making an immediate impact with his physicality.
Both sides were temporarily reduced to 14 players as the referee dealt firmly with the Barnstaple loosehead and Wanderers’ Dave Whiting.
The Barnstaple fly-half was orchestrating proceedings and, despite solid Wanderers’ defence, they increased their lead with a converted try.
However, Worcester’s Jake Saddington, Mattie Marskell and Paul Burton posed a constant threat to their drift defence.
With five minutes left, Wanderers showed enterprise and good skills to break out from just inside their own 22 with Burton instrumental.
Barnstaple’s defence was turned and the ball found Chris Jenkinson, who stepped inside a couple of opponents and scored near the posts with Mike Dodge converting.
Both sides went for bust late on but Barnstaple finished on the attack before Kieran Morris tackled the left wing into touch just before the final whistle.