Crouch’s plunge is reward for fine fightback
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.