London Two North East: Steve Barfoot’s enjoyable campaign with Romford & Gidea Park ends with cup final loss
PUBLISHED: 13:00 28 April 2017
A poor first-half for the Crow Lane club resulted in division rivals Rochford Hundred winning the Essex Intermediate Cup last Saturday
Steve Barfoot knows Romford & Gidea Park have plenty of areas to improve on next season after ending the current campaign with an Essex Intermediate Cup final loss.
London Two North East rivals Rochford Hundred proved too strong on the day, as they claimed a 36-29 success at Bancroft last Saturday.
A poor first-half for Park proved costly and meant they finished an encouraging 2016-17 campaign with a frustrating loss.
“It has been quite an enjoyable season even though we didn’t start it very well, but we came back into it,” said director of rugby Barfoot.
“If I had been offered fourth-place and a cup final spot in September then I would have taken it.
“But obviously we could have finished third and could have won the final as well, so we are disappointed we didn’t achieve both.
“With that in mind there are things to work on and improve ahead of next season and we’ll do that.”
Rochford scored two tries inside the opening 10 minutes of Saturday’s final, as Park struggled in the early stages of the contest.
Eventually the Crow Lane club regrouped and Ian Semain and Darrell Braiden crossed over with the latter adding the extras to put Barfoot’s team 14-12 ahead.
But Rochford hit back again twice more to earn another 12-point lead in what proved to be a thrilling Essex Intermediate Cup final.
Park were not ready to give up and Jamie Harbour and Charlie Wilkinson grabbed tries with Braiden kicking a conversion and a penalty to put them 29-26 up.
Just as it seemed they were set to retain the cup they won last year, Rochford fought back with another converted try and a penalty to claim the silverware.
“It wasn’t the way we wanted to end the season, but I knew it would be close and it proved to be the case with them pipping us in the last few minutes,” said Barfoot.
“We didn’t play well for the first 40 minutes and they quickly went 12-0 up, but the fact we came back was good, yet Rochford deserved it.”
Park won both league meetings during the London Two North East campaign, but Barfoot warned his squad it counted for little.
The Crow Lane stalwart felt some of his players may not have heeded his warning, however, as they failed to get out of the traps fast.
“We had a good squad available and it was only Paul Bradley and me who couldn’t play due to injury,” added Barfoot.
“I just think we might have got complacent and I said beforehand that the two league wins would mean nothing in the final.
“But some of them must have thought it would be easy and it cost us because we didn’t start strongly.
“The preparation was good and we all turned up on time, but Rochford played better than us on the day.”
Park will now enjoy the summer away from rugby and aim to return focused and refreshed ahead of the 2017-18 season.
After eight months of competition, the players might be looking forward to resting up now, but the hard work doesn’t stop for the coaches.
Barfoot added: “It has been a long season, so it will be nice to have a break and we will probably have six weeks off.
“Obviously the boys will do their own stuff in the gym and hopefully they all come back raring to go.
“We are working hard now to get pre-season games in place, so it is still a busy time for us.”
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