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Safety in Barking’s hands after big win

PUBLISHED: 17:25 02 April 2008 | UPDATED: 12:49 11 August 2010

ON THE RUN . . .  Aaron Hopkins stretches his legs in Barking’s biggest win of the season.

ON THE RUN . . . Aaron Hopkins stretches his legs in Barking’s biggest win of the season.

NATIONAL THREE SOUTH Barking 42 Clifton 15 Stand up and be counted was the rallying call from Barking coach Mark Robinson, and his players did just that in this vital clash against fellow relegation strugglers Clifton. What was even more pleasing about

NATIONAL

THREE SOUTH

Barking 42 Clifton 15

"Stand up and be counted" was the rallying call from Barking coach Mark Robinson, and his players did just that in this vital clash against fellow relegation strugglers Clifton.

What was even more pleasing about the performance was that six tries were run in as Barking made a big move towards staying in National Three South next season.

The visitors, one point behind Barking at the start of the day, had the first chance to take the lead with a penalty inside two minutes, but John Barnes pushed his kick wide and Barking breathed again as they settled down to do what had to be done.

Shipped

Shortly afterwards, the ball was shipped out to leading try scorer Adam Bishop, who carried it deep into the Clifton 22 before he was stopped.

Barking's pack piled in to win quick ball and Fili Leota charged through three tackles to touch down, Harry Owens adding the conversion for a seven-point lead.

It got even better for the hosts as Owens charged into the Clifton 22, Basil Api took the ball on and a quick ruck saw fellow centre Aaron Hopkins glide over for his fifth try in six games, Owens again adding the kick to double Barking's lead.

A spell of forward pressure on the Clifton line brought the home side's third try.

Hopkins this time fed Api, whose strength took him over the line, Owens yet again finding the target with the conversion.

A flare-up in the forwards saw a yellow card for Leota and while Barking were down to 14 men, the visitors took advantage to close the gap with two tries in eight minutes, both from centre Rob Viol and both due in some measure to sloppy tackling from the hosts.

In between the two scores, young Barking full back Scott Shaw put his team-mates to shame with a magnificent try-saving tackle to break up a Clifton attack as Leota re-entered the fray.

Back to full strength, the Barking pack resumed its pounding of the Clifton line and grabbed the four-try bonus point three minutes before the break.

Paul Everitt picked up from the base of a scrum and fed Andy Eaton.

A simple scissors move then put Hopkins over for his second try of the afternoon and Owens maintained his 100 per cent conversion record to make the score 28-10.

A lapse of concentration in stoppage time allowed the Bristol side in for a third try as they kicked downfield under pressure and chased up for Steven Leonard to put full back Greg Setherton over.

Barnes added the extras to ensure that although 28-15 ahead, Barking still had work to do.

With the bonus point in the bag, it became important to deny Clifton a fourth try and a bonus point of their own, but it quickly became obvious that Barking had decided that attack was definitely the best form of defence.

A fifth try quickly followed as Api and Tom Alexander made ground to set Owens free for his fourth try of ther season, adding the conversion as well.

From there on it was nearly all Barking as although Clifton still occasionally looked dangerous on the break, the hosts' pack grew in stature.

The last quarter of the game saw the visiting forwards travelling backwards in the scrum at great speed as Barking truly imposed themselves.

Owens hit the post with a penalty and missed with a drop goal attempt, Hopkins crossed for what would have been his hat-trick, but was brought back for a forward pass and Bishop dropped the ball over the line before Hopkins seized on a loose ball to send replacement Paul Pickworth flying over the line for the Goresbrook outfit's sixth try.

Owens was then back on target with the conversion for a 42-15 victory.

It was a crucial win for Barking as it opened up some daylight between them and the relegation zone.

With Luton definitely relegated, Clifton and North Walsham currently occupy the other two relegation slots.

Clifton are six points behind Barking while their points difference is 211 worse off, so Clifton, whose last two games are at home to Bridgwater and away to Havant, are favourites to go down.

Walsham are five points adrift and their points difference is 114 points worse than Barking's.

If they fail to win both their remaining games, at Ealing and at home to Lydney, then they are for the drop too.

Barking face the toughest finish of all three clubs with fifth-placed Canterbury away on April 12 and champions Mounts Bay at home on April 19, but they could still survive even if they fail to win another point.

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