Somerset Premier

Burnham-on-Sea 19, Minehead Barbarians10

THE Stags welcomed Minehead Barbarians to The BASC ground for a top-of-the-table clash as both teams had yet to taste defeat, writes Lee Berry.

The hosts knew this was going to be another tough match but were well prepared, gaining the knowledge from last season's two hard-fought wins.

In the early stages, The Stags had good territory by keeping Minehead in their own half but possession of ball was spilt between the two sides.

Minehead's defensive line were quick, which pressurised The Stags and forced several errors in open play which allowed Minehead to clear away.

The set-piece had vastly improved from the previous week, which allowed The Stags to maintain that territory.

A scrum was awarded just short of the 5m line for the hosts and Jude Donnelly, playing at No 8, picked the ball up from the base of the scrum, took off on the blindside and crashed through the oncoming winger to score the first try of the game after 30 minutes. Tim Piper converted.

Minehead responded shortly after as they caught The Stags' back line napping on the 10m line and their outside centre broke through a gap, with the winger in support, who received the ball to score out wide to make it 7-5.

From the restart, Minehead kept the ball well, going through the phases and worked their way back into The Stags' half towards the try line.

However, some quality defending by the hosts prevented the visitors from taking the lead before half-time.

Positive words were given by coach Kevin Inalls at half-time and the players responded.

Full-back Alex Watkins began to link well with the backline, who created the overlap on several occasions but those pesky handling errors kept haunting many players.

Patience and composure was needed when The Stags were in the 22 area which paid off.

After a lineout was won by the home team, a maul was set but fell into a ruck.

Quick ball was recycled to prop Ed Lewis on the blindside and he forced his way over to score The Stags' second try.

The home side began to gel from this point as they attacked the visitors.

Veteran fly-half Tim Piper proved he still has it in him as he spotted gaps appearing, a few times breaking the Minehead defence.

During one move, he passed wide to Watkins coming at pace from 15m out who was tackled into touch inches from the try line.

Minehead batted well to keep The Stags at bay from the resulting lineout and managed to work away from danger, pushing the hosts back.

At times, The Stags' defensive line was so quick and Josh Holder managed to intercept a pass and sped off towards the try line, looking for support; in doing so, he allowed himself to be tackled 5m out.

Minehead continued to protect the try line for several minutes but it's tough for any team to sustain attack for too long and, with play back in the visitors' 22 area, quick ball continued to be recycled.

After several phases of play, Sam Lewis whipped the ball out to Will Hopkins, who was running at pace, and crashed through two tacklers, then managed to stretch for the line and scored a well deserved try.

Piper added the extras to make it 19-5.

Minehead never gave up and proved why they are a tenacious team by putting The Stags under immense pressure for the remainder of the game, testing the home defence once again.

This pressure paid off as they came away with another five points with only eight minutes left to play.

The Stags were resilient and tackled everything that came at them but fell foul when Piper was binned for an infringement at the breakdown.

With possession to Minehead, they lacked that bit of clinical play and gave away possession when it was needed.

The Stags then went through the motions and fizzled out the remaining minutes.