Barnes stars on debut as Aylesbury bounce back

Liam d'Almeida makes a strong break into the Beaconsfield half. Picture Mark Bannister Photography
Liam d'Almeida makes a strong break into the Beaconsfield half. Picture Mark Bannister Photography

Aylesbury RFC kick-started their season at the weekend when they ran out 12-3 winners over Beaconsfield in the Southern Counties North.

Having lost their opener last week, Aylesbury gave three new signings their debuts on Saturday as second row Mike Callis and backs James Serrano and Tom Barnes all started at Ostler’s Field.

Beaconsfield kicked off the game on a day that was perfect for fast running rugby and as Ay’s received the ball, they made it clear that there was going to be no repeat of their previous week’s sluggish start.

The Ducks took play straight into the Beaconsfield half and were soon threatening the visitors’ try line, and their efforts were quickly rewarded when a Beaconsfield infringement resulted in a penalty, although James Woodfall missed the target.

Aylesbury didn’t require much longer to go ahead, however, with the ball flung wide where James Serrano’s pass put John Barnes in for a try.

Woodfall this time made no mistake with the conversion and Ay’s were 7-0 up, a lead they held on to until half time.

The second half saw both sides battling hard to gain supremacy but it was Beaconsfield who were the first to go close as their winger made a strong break to get clear and was only denied a certain try by Tom Barnes, who managed to dislodge the ball with a superb covering tackle.

Beaconsfield continued to pound the Aylesbury try line and only the home side’s resolute defence prevented a score, although the away side were eventually able to get their first points on the board as Ay’s were penalised in front of their own posts and handed the visitors the easiest of penalty kicks to cut the deficit.

But as the game moved into the final quarter, it was Ay’s new boy Tom Barnes who once again made his mark on the match as he made a break down the wing and passed to Andy Blacklock, who dived over in the corner for the try.

Woodfall uncharacteristically stumbled as he made his conversion attempt but Ay’s were 12-3 ahead, and maintained that lead until the final whistle to secure their first win of the new season.

Head coach Dave Larham commented afterwards: “We asked the players for a positive reaction following last week’s defeat and were rewarded with a battling performance.

“It wasn’t pretty and we rode our luck at times, but this display was a huge improvement overall.

“The team has several new faces and we have to be patient in understanding that it will take time to gel. I thought debutants James Serrano and Mike Callis gave us energy and direction, while man of the match Tom Barnes demonstrated composure in attack and defence; he probably won the game with a despairing last ditch tackle to dislodge the ball from the Beaconsfield winger who should of scored.

“There’s still a lot to work on but the players have to take credit for a hard-fought win and showing real character under pressure. We will have to seriously raise our game away at Bicester this week because they were the most improved team we played last season.”