Wagstaff hails brave Barking after defeat
11:00 28 January 2015
Gale Street side suffer heart break against title challengers
Barking head coach Steve Wagstaff praised his team, despite watching them suffer a 19-16 away loss to Eton Manor in London One North at the weekend.
The visitors had led from the 12th minute until the final play of the match at the New Wilderness before losing in the cruellest possible fashion.
But the Gale Street outfit had run the title challengers close, so Wagstaff was proud of his team and lauded their display.
“I thought one to 18, all of them were brilliant, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more from them,” he said.
“The defence was absolutely first class and for me that was the best performance of the season and I’m just so proud of them.
“Our line-out has been one of our strongest points all year, but the scrum does need a bit of work, but again it is how it is policed at the breakdown by the referee and you look at that and adapt at what is in front of you.
“But they are an awesome set of boys to work with and I thought they showed it. They put everything into it against Manor and I couldn’t have asked for any more.”
Barking dominated from the start and it was no surprise when Sam Randle crossed for the first try of the afternoon following a well worked move.
Craig Ratford kicked the extras before adding another penalty to give his team a 10-0 lead.
Manor did respond, though, with Pete Bicknell breaking through to reduce the arrears before another Ratford penalty made it 13-7 at the break.
The visitors started the second period strongly as well, with Ratford adding another penalty, after missing an attempt minutes earlier, to extend the advantage to nine points.
Plenty of time was remaining, though, and the home team, who haven’t lost a competitive match on their own soil since September 2013, soon piled on the pressure.
Michael Eghan reduced the arrears with another Manor try, but it did appear Barking would hold on for a memorable win, with their defence standing firm to everything that came their way.
But the hosts snatched victory in the dying seconds when Reece Reed spun away from a scrum and ran down the blindside to score the decisive try.
And Wagstaff wasn’t pleased with the referee, adding: “I can’t fault the boys and really it is a single call at the end of the game, which has decided the game and should it have done? No.
“It was a scrum for Manor, but I think the fact that the referee had warned them three times for holding and then they came round on the blindside after a deliberate hold meant it should have been our penalty.
“But you take your chances and Eton Manor have taken theirs and fair play to them. It was two well-matched teams, a very well-coached Manor team and I wish them all the best for the rest of the season.”