Clifton end their Barking barren spell, but with so little to spare

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By The Bristol Post | Monday, November 12, 2012, 05:00

THIS was always going to be a difficult game for Clifton who had never, before Saturday, won on the Essex club's ground.

After ten games played Barking had yet to record a point and, as a result, their director of rugby Dean Cutting along with his support staff had their services dispensed with on the previous Monday.

He has been replaced by Nick Warren, who is still establishing his full coaching team, but prepared the side for this game.

The Barking players were keen to put down their marker and impress Warren and produced their best performance of the season.

They deservedly recorded their first points of the season when scrum-half James Fouracre burst away from a ruck to score his sides fourth try with two minutes remaining and in doing so grabbed both a try bonus point as well as losing bonus point.

Clifton were forced to reorganise their back division prior to the game with Matt Williams, normally a full-back, stepping into the No 10 shirt and the reshaped line-up took time to settle,

The opening exchanges were tentative and by the end of the first quarter the home side were in the lead with two penalties kicked by fly-half Craig Ratford with scrum-half Callum Braley kicking one for Clifton.

An impressive feature of Clifton's game was their efficient line-out along with the driving play of their pack and this brought them healthy rewards.

Flanker James Stephenson scored the game's first try when he drove over from close range to give Clifton a lead they never surrendered.

Winger Sam Smith was then put away on a weaving run from deep in his own half and showed that despite a lengthy lay off with injury he had lost none of his pace as he was bundled into touch close to the line.

Reward was not long in coming when following a line-out drive lock Peter Butcher went over with Braley converting,

Barking gained reward when their outstanding flanker Michael Anderson saw him finish off a back-rowmove launched from a line-out with Ratford adding the extras.

In the 33rd minute, Stephenson grabbed his second try and a cut pass from Williams put Smith in at the corner with Braley adding a conversion and penalty to establish a 17-point lead.

It appeared Clifton would run away with the second half, but it was not to be, as early scores saw Barking's confidence grow. Ratford kicked an early penalty and then Anderson scored his second try which was converted.

Clifton centre Sam Harrison scored the best try of the game when he split the home defence to go over under the posts with Braley converting.

Harrison was sent to the bin and, while he was off, Ratford kicked a further penalty and centre Stephen Uiuetah weaved his way over.

On the hour, Williams scored Clifton's final points when a speculative drop goal crept over the bar. Clifton endured a difficult final quarter as their defence struggled with Barking's back five full of strong running, but held firm until the final couple of minutes.

Director of rugby Darren Lloyd was pleased his youthful side came away with a win, but realises his team face difficult games in the next few weeks when they come up against in form sides.

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