National Intermediate Cup

South West semi-final

Wellington 23, Barton Hill 14

WELLINGTON welcomed Barton Hill to the Athletic Ground for a National Intermediate Cup South West semi-final clash on Saturday, writes Allyn Chetland.

Danny Lee, Ash Harney, Jack Richards and Chris Batts were all missing for the Red & Blacks, but Ryan Marke and Tyler Hart made welcomed returns to the starting XV.

Playing towards the clubhouse in the first half, the hosts started brightly, showing intent to play attractive rugby despite the heavy conditions underfoot.

Scrum-half Alex Davey opened the scoring when he crossed for a try near the post after an outstanding break by captain Patrick Jarman from 40 metres out, and full-back Rob Hooper made no mistake with the extra points.

Further pressure ensued, with Barts having difficulty in containing the R&Bs' attacking plays.

One Wellington attack was halted illegally when the visitors were caught offside in front of their posts, and Hooper stepped up to hammer the ball between posts to make the score 10-0.

Further chances were created by the hosts but these try-scoring opportunities could not be exploited, and their last score of the half came from an impromptu drop goal by Hooper after another chance for a try went begging.

With the first 20 minutes of the half belonging to Wellington, the last 20 belonged to Barts, who changed tactics and kept the ball well, denying the R&Bs any meaningful possession.

The visitors scored two converted tries from close range to go into the half-time break with a 14-13 lead.

Despite being down at the break, confidence was high for Wellington as the second period started.

Whereas Barts had the upper hand in territory and possession at the end of the first period, the hosts had the better of these throughout the second half - once again creating the majority of decent try-scoring chances.

The away side's chances were limited and when they did come close, the door was firmly shut with outstanding defence by Joe Dyke and replacement Dan Goldstone.

Wellington's efforts were rewarded when second row Regan Walker powered his way over for unconverted try, following an unstoppable driving maul from a lineout, to regain the lead.

Barts tried to get back on terms using the tactics from the first half but the hosts were now ready and dealt with this threat with ease.

The final score of the game, which came in the last minute of the game, was from Walker again, as he found himself with a bit of space wide out to crash over for an unconverted try following another well-orchestrated R&B attack.

Wellington squad: Marke, Dyke, M Walker, R Walker, Venn, Hancock, Phillips, Kitto, Davey, Jarman (c), Pitman, Hodgson, Gordan, Hart, Hooper, Bellamy, Howe, Crosby, Jenkinson, Goldstone, Sestaret, Hawkings.

This was a good performance from Wellington in difficult playing conditions against a tenacious Barts team who themselves deserve credit for their performance.

The victory means that the R&Bs travel to Bideford on February 22 for the South West final, with the winner of this game progressing to the national semi-final on April 11.

This coming Saturday sees Wellington return to league action, making the long trip into Cornwall to take on Penryn.

When the two sides met earlier on in the season the R&Bs ran out convincing winners; but Penryn are totally different at home so Wellington must be prepared for a tough encounter.