BASINGSTOKE RFC director of rugby James Croker has a selection headache ahead of his side’s trip to Hertford.
The first XI had a blank week in the schedule last weekend, so Croker was able to watch Dragons’ resounding 78-0 victory over Trojans – and he was impressed with what he saw.
Croker said: “Certainly a number of players have put themselves into contention for selection. It is going to be an interesting meeting to decide who plays against Hertford.
“It is nice to have so many players in good form as we get to the end of the season.”
’Stoke are only four points behind their rivals in the National League Three London table and the first encoun-ter between these sides at Down Grange was a brutal affair, with the home side coming out on top 21-13.
Barnes played against Hertford earlier in the season and kicked two penalties before a late tackle saw him forced to sit out the second-half due to a rib injury.
Barnes was injured in the first-half, but kicked the opening penalty after four minutes Byett then scored ’Stoke’s first try six minutes later to extend the lead to 8-0.
The visitors replied with their own score from Dan Belton, but Barnes, having missed one penalty, kicked the next.
Then, six minutes before half-time, Barnes, playing his first game back from injury, was caught in the ribs by a late tackle and took no further part in the game.
Basingstoke re-shuffled their line-up, as Fish moved to fly-half and Dampies took over at scrum half, but the home side led 11-5 at the break.
The Hertford fly-half got the first points of the second half nine minutes after the break with a penalty, but the home side hit back with two unconverted tries.
Freddie Gleadowe was the first to go over on 67 minutes and, soon after, Gavin Dampies also touched down to make the score 21-8, as Byett missed both conver-sions.
The teams were playing 14-a-side at the time, as ’Stoke’s Karl Buttle and Hertford’s James Jackman had both been yellow carded.
In the final few minutes of the contest, Hertford reduced the lead as second row Craig South scored an unconverted try.