THE Barbarians have been managing an injury crisis, and with so many players unavailable, it meant an interesting selection faced the Weston team in County Two Somerset last Saturday. Dylan Cherry and Harry Reeder stepped up, alongside a centre pairing of Beaver and Day. Those centres, while now experienced players, had not played in that position before.

Minehead had won well in the home fixture, but Weston have improved, and the many changes in the Barbarian team, meant that this was a tight competitive affair.

Minehead did well in the early line-outs with Bullard stealing opposition possession. Cherry then showed that he had deserved his call with some smart tactical kicks to pin Weston back.

The Barbarian lineout allowed some powerful driving mauls, with Cox, Govier and Dunton at the heart. Minehead found success with their forward power, and the hosts looked to move the ball wider in the backs. The changes to the Minehead backline may have meant less fluent play, but the determination in the tackle by the midfield was outstanding.

The breakthrough came after powerful carries by Beaver, White and Cox put the team in a strong attacking situation. Weston conceded penalties, and from a lineout the maul was driven forward with White scoring.

Minehead extended their lead later when, after hard work by the Barbarian pack, Day cut a line and fed Gower into a gap. The full back burst through and race past the last defender to score, and convert.

The home side raised themselves and put a long period of pressure on the Barbarians’ line, but their defence held strong. A powerful burst by Hollingsworth was a final highlight before half-time.

The second half saw the Barbarians facing the breeze and the rain that came in with it. The pitch surface started to deteriorate, and it became very difficult for Minehead to escape from their half.

Early on Weston gained reward for all their earlier hard work when from a driven maul a ruck was created and a Weston player reached through the bodies to score.

Minehead were forced into changes as Dunton and Gower left the field. Swann and Winter coming on to steady the pack. Later Glen Beaver came on, rolling back the years to play in the same side as his son Sean.

The rain and mud, however, kept Minehead in their corner, and the home side scored a try almost identical to their first to level the scores.

With twenty minutes to go and everything against them, the Barbarians could have collapsed, but their character now shone through. They tackled ferociously, and time and again Bullard and Willes carried the ball forward refusing to concede.

With the ball slippery scrums were important, and the strength of the pack led by Swann won vital penalties to allow clearance kicks. The Barbarians fought hard, and the final whistle gave them a draw which showed credit to a much changed team.

The team were collectively given the Man of Match award for the determination and grit shown.