THE Barbarians’ “Past Players Day” ensured a big crowd as the team showed great grit and determination, despite losing to high-flying Chew Valley 24-12, writes Bryan Stevens..

Chew started with the strong wind at their back, and the Barbarians had to scrap hard for any territory. Fight they did, and well led by the hardworking Willes and Cox, they drove forward time and again with support by the rest of the pack.

Unable to kick for position due to the wind, Minehead tried to run the ball out of defence. Hole was always ready to do the hard yards powering forward, and Chinn searched for gaps, as did Day. The visitors were very good at their rush defence testing the offside line to the full! All this hard work did take the Barbarians to the Chew line, where they were held up and denied a try.

The wind aided the visitors to gain large distances by kicking, this took them down to the home line and set up their first score. A series of drives from the visitors’ heavy pack saw them cross the line.

Despite being on the back foot, Minehead forced their way back into the game. A sharp break by Hawker, who impressed behind a pack that was under pressure, took the game back to the Chew line.

A driven line-out forced its way to the line, sucking in the defenders, the ball is moved back up the slope and Day found winger Handley in support to claim the try. Against the odds, the Barbarians reached the break with scores even.

The decisive factor in the match was to be the weight of the Chew pack that kept Minehead under pressure. Only five minutes in that pack managed to drive a lineout powerfully through to score. Minehead fought back deep into the visitors half, but staying there was difficult. No-one could fault the efforts of Hollingsworth, Bullard, and Beaver, but the visitors started to get the upper hand.

Using their bench, Minehead brought on Parfitt for extra energy in the backs, and he was joined by Harry Chinn in the forwards.

Another series of heavy runners by Chew ended with a burst through the Barbarian mid-field to score.

To their great credit Minehead struck back. The team took tap-penalties with a strong carry from Cox to set up a position where Dunton forced his way over, for Cherry to convert.

Chew gained their final try after they once again kicked to the corner, and their wing went over.

The big efforts from the Barbarians sadly did not get the bonus point that was deserved.

Hawker, and Day both shone under pressure, but the huge efforts of James Cox made him Man of the Match.