BARNSTAPLE relegated from the division above would provide strong competition having retained the majority of their squad and so it proved, writes Roger Pike.

A thrilling game ensued with the hosts being the best side Lydney have played this season showing some superb handling skills, running out deserved winners to continue Lydney’s away day woes. 

However, for the first 30 minutes Lydney looked to be in control and favourites to get something from the game, but the hosts proved a quality side punishing any errors from the Severnsiders with points to leave the visitors with nothing to show for their efforts.

The hosts started the stronger, but a well-managed Lydney defence were in control, a breakout by Brad Dunn got them to halfway, a deft offload to Alex Nelmes sees him clear but tackled just 5m out with the line beckoning. 

Lydney were not denied a score, from a scrum the ball spun across the backline for winger Brad Dunn to score in the corner for 0 – 5.

The hosts as expected responded immediately and had a long spell of pressure winning numerous penalties around the 5m line where eventually Dominic Robson crossed, converted by Jake Murphy to give the hosts the lead 7 – 5. 

The game then remained even with both sides having some good chances. 

For Lydney Zak Williams was stealing some good line out ball with Kyle Frowen and Dan Cooper making good impacts in any loose play. 

Out in the backs wingers Brad Dunn and Conal Mills looked dangerous with the ball making good ground. 

The hosts then created a good field position on the 5m line but good defence from Hudson and Frowen saw the Severnsiders clear their lines. 

However back in midfield some poor Lydney defence saw a Barnstaple break from Ryan Smale who passed out to winger Cameron Johnson to score, Murphy added the conversion for 14 – 5. 

On halftime Kiran Griffiths got an unlucky yellow card, playing 14 the hosts kicked the penalty to the corner for a line out which was driven over for Brandon Moore to score, Murphy again converted for 21 – 5.

The Severnsiders did try to respond before halftime with some good pressure and opportunities close to the line, but a lost line out ended the half.

The hosts started the second period the stronger camped in the Severnsiders half but the defence held solid and a super break out from Brad Barnes saw the visitors deep in the hosts half, opting to kick another penalty to the corner a further penalty ensues, a tap sees a forward drive with Harry Brown crashing over for 21 -10.

With the hosts back on the attack another penalty saw another drive over score by Brandon Moore to extend the lead out to 26 – 10.

The Severnsiders were now chasing something from the game running the ball where possible, but the match remained scrappy with the Official stopping the game for any infringement.

The visitors emptied their bench with White and Cunliffe coming on but the hosts with their superior passing and running maintained their dominance.

Despite some superb Lydney defence with Mills and Dunn putting in some great tackles as the hosts moved the ball around out wide, they won another penalty for Murphy to kick and end the game 29 -10.

Director of Rugby Sam Arnott commented: "Really disappointing performance, it was always going to be a tough task, they are formidable at home but for 35 minutes are I thought we were ok scoring a good try and should have had another.

"However, we had 5 minutes of chaos on halftime and the game was gone.

"The second half was not great, but they are a top side and punished the slightest of mistakes with points.

"As a positive we were competitive and should have got something from the game, however we move on to a busy period with Brixham the visitors to Regentsholme next week.’

Lydney: Rowan Mullis, Daniel Cooper, James Bayliss, Lewis Locke, Zak Williams, Oliver Fleet, Luke Hudson, Kyle Frowen, Tom Broady, Brad Barnes, Conal Mills, Kiran Griffiths, Ben Large (C), Brad Dunn, Alex Nelmes. Replacements Rob White, Mason Cunliffe, Harry Brown