RUGBY: James Arthur's weekly column (February 25)

AFTER the hard-fought win away to Lydney last week, a game that brought us back to earth after the two previous good home wins, we knew that this week against Barking would be another big challenge.

Barking are top of the league and are having a tight battle with Ealing to see who will finish in first place and win the league.

Needless to say, we were put through our paces at training, working hard on fitness and the aspects of our game that did not function so well the week before.

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In the build-up to the game, it was nice to see that we are now a side that are not being over-looked by teams such as Barking.

It demonstrates how far we have come as a club and how we have made our presence in National 2 felt.

The week saw us lose outside centre Greg Sullivan and hooker Mickey Pointing to injury, as well as Joe Govett to work commitments.

Greg Walker moved into the centres and Mike Marsh came onto the wing, while Pete Cleveland started as hooker.

It was always going to be a tough weekend against top of the league Barking, but it was a game we were all looking forward to playing.

The first half saw some entertaining rugby by both sides and with five minutes to go until half-time, we were just 7-6 down in a tight game.

But I picked up a yellow card, and we then dropped eight points before heading in, which was a disappointing end to the half.

The second half saw us unable to keep up with the quick thinking and the fast pace of the Barking backs.

We did not play badly, but were outplayed by a team that deserves to be top of the league.

It was bitterly disappointing to allow two tries in the last 10 minutes and, therefore, allow them the winning bonus point and a scoreline that we did not really deserve.

It has highlighted some areas to focus on and given us an insight of where we should be aiming in the future.

There were no real surprises in the rest of the league. The other teams at the top of the league came away with big wins, while Westcombe Park had a good win over Richmond, beating them by one point.

This week, we take a trip to face Canterbury, who sit one place above us and seven points ahead, although we do have a game in hand.

We hope that as many of you as possible can come and support us.

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