The first match of the third part of the season for The Hague Barbarians (the combined junior team from Wassenaar Warriors, WRC Te Werve and Voorburgse Rugby Club) took place at Zaandam against RCW/Zaandijk on Saturday 5th February.
After the long enforced break, the team started off a little rusty and were pinned back in their own 22 in the first few minutes. Due to a Covid withdrawal earlier in the week and an injury during the warmup, the Barbarians were without their 2 hookers and had to play uncontested scrums. RCW/Zaandijk took advantage after 5 minutes when they were awarded a scrum on the 5 metre line. The Barbarians defended as much as they could but conceded the first try a couple of phases later. RCW/Zaandijk converted bringing the score to 7-0 after 5 mins.
The Barbarians struggled to get a foothold for a while. RCW/Zaandijk being very physical and also being one of the few teams that we’ve played that kicked tactically, which gave our fullback a busy first half. The Barbarians made a couple of good breaks and runs and had a try disallowed for double movement before breaking loose with a fantastic run from Raphael Gain-Prost almost the whole length of the field before offloading to Jesper Verbeek for the Barbarians first try that was converted by Tijmen Pronk.
A couple of minutes later RCW/Zaandijk stretched the Barbarians defence across the pitch and drove over in the corner. They were unable to covert bringing the scores to 12-7. Seconds before half time the Barbarians suffered a blow as our fullback Plamen Brown made a great run but was injured during a tackle, breaking his nose in the process.
Half time score 12-7
The second half started well for the Barbarians with Matt McCoy scoring a try after 2 minutes. The conversation by Jesper Verbeek was successful and the Barbarians took the lead 12-14. Another blow hit the Barbarians as one of our wingers, Yoshua van Eenige, left the field with a leg injury just after the try was scored.
The Barbarians started to find their feet and started to change their style of play. Switching to a better flow of the ball to the wing (rather than constant pick and go and trying to wear down the opposition), Barbarians were able to exploit gaps in the RCW/Zaandijk line and we saw some great attacking efforts on both wings.
Tries in the second half came from Tijmen Pronk (converted by Jesper Verbeek) and Matt McCoy scoring an exciting second after a quickly taken penalty and drive for the RCW/Zaandijk line.
RCW/Zaandijk also scored but were unable to convert bringing the final score to RCW/Zaandijk 17 – The Hague Barbarians 26.
A good win for the Barbarians but they made life difficult for themselves during the first half. There was some great defensive work by the players and it shows that they have put the effort in over the enforced break. Changing the way that they played in the second half also showed better understanding of the game and of the opponents in front of them. However, there were some discipline issues in the ruck and The Barbarians were penalised at least three times as a result. This is a recurring theme and something that the coaches and players will be looking at before the next match.
Still, it was great for the team to get out there again and play some competitive rugby. This extends their winning streak to 5 games which is a great achievement for the team!
Stephen Brown and Mark Mc Coy
Supporting team staff The Hague Barbarians