WESTCLIFF suffered another narrow defeat in National Two South, losing 34-27 at Barnes.

The setback saw Westcliff slip to third from bottom in the standings.

And first team manager Rick Compton was a frustrated figure at the final whistle.

“It was a strange game and aspects of our defending as well as the final result were deeply disappointing,” said Compton.

“Surrendering three tries in the first 20 minutes made our task impossibly difficult and when we were a man down and under the cosh in the critical period of the game those points cost us dearly.

“We did score three good tries of our own but they just mitigated the damage rather than built a commanding position.

“We didn’t play well enough in the second half and failed to impose ourselves in the manner we know we can when we are on our game.

“Frustratingly, it’s another game that got away from us and upon which we must reflect with regret but as ever we must move on and look forward.”

Saturday’s game started in frantic fashion with both sides scoring three tries inside the opening 25 minutes.

Barnes were first to strike when a Westcliff kick in the shadow of their own posts was charged down, gathered and grounded.

But Westcliff responded within four minutes through a try from Buster Reynolds after a midfield break opened up the home defence and Greg Bannister converted to make it 7-7.

Two minutes later, the Barnes scrum-half took advantage of an inviting gap at a breakdown, galloping through it to score far too easily.

However, Westcliff were level within a couple of minutes this time through Bannister who converted his own try after another incisive break opened the door.

Shortly after, Westcliff hit the front for the first time when Bannister converted a penalty but were soon behind again when they failed to learn their lesson and allowed the scrum-half to once more dash home without anyone laying a hand on him.

But, once again, Westcliff responded through a converted try from hooker Billy Morrant to lead 24-19 at half-time.

A penalty from Bannister extended Westcliff’s lead after the break but, as the final quarter begun the pivotal moment arrived when Chris Bolton impeded a player taking a quick penalty and was sent to the bin.

During his enforced absence the momentum shifted and Barnes, with their tails up and a man advantage, scored two tries, one of which was converted, and a penalty.

The complexion of the game had changed and Westcliff were unable to turn the tide.

Westcliff: Croft, Hogarth, B Reynolds, Smith, Radzevicius, Bannister, Bolton, Weston, B Morrant, Dellas, Vandermolen, Dartnell, Marsh, Webber, S Reynolds.

Replacements: H Morrant, Meakin, Scogings, Lynch & Johnson.