Crouch’s plunge is re­ward for fine fight­back

The Rugby Paper - - National League 2 South - ■ By AN­DREW JONES

ASHLEE Crouch’s late try set­tled a topsy-turvy clash and put Barn­sta­ple back in the top half af­ter three straight de­feats – but they had to mount a fight­back.

With Will Pom­phrey a pow­er­house at cen­tre, Clifton twice opened up Barn­sta­ple early on and led 14-0 af­ter just seven min­utes through tries by Jack Wat­ters and Cal­lum Roberts.

No.8 Gareth Evans scooped the ball off his toes to crash over for Barn­sta­ple’s first try in the 20th minute, but Clifton made it 19-7 when Chris Dunne brushed off tack­les to charge over from eight me­tres.

The mo­men­tum then shifted to­wards Barn­sta­ple, with the help of two un­likely try scor­ers.

Lock Oli Ma­son got his first in Na­tional Two and hooker James Starkey showed great stealth to slip un­no­ticed from a line-out drive.

Jake Mur­phy’s penalty nudged Barn­sta­ple in front for the first time and they were eight points up at the in­ter­val af­ter he con­verted a break­away try from Will Topps.

Clifton slipped fur­ther be­hind when Mur­phy knocked over a penalty but were not about to give up.

James Stephen­son powered over from close range to make it 30-24 and the pres­sure mounted on the home de­fence.

But the red line held firm and, when they went deep into Clifton ter­ri­tory, Crouch was driven over for the de­ci­sive score.

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