Diss are again left to rue another slow start

DISS 22, BARNES 34: Diss may want to ask the RFU whether the rules can be changed so that the first 20 minutes of their games are played as a warm up period and don't count towards the final result.

Yet again they gave their opponents a winning cushion in the first 20 minutes, and despite winning the rest of the game were always playing catch-up.

The first-ever meeting with Barnes was expected to be tough as the Londoners arrived as league leaders with a 100pc record.

The Diss team was again unsettled due to unavailability and injury, tough they welcomed back Zac Seward.

And within 15 minutes they had shipped three converted tries down – and had Keith Rix sent to the bench for 10 minutes.

Only then did Diss start to take the game to Barnes. And they were rewarded when they got a penalty for holding on, which Chris Beaird converted. Nine minutes later and after a series of pick and goes by the pack, Tim Groom scored towards the corner, but the conversion was missed.

The pressure was now beginning to get to Barnes and they began to give away more and more penalties only one of which was within kickable range, while their No 8 also had to spend 10 minutes on the bench for persistent offences.

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The second half again started with Diss forcing the pace and the match developing a bit of edge to it. Eventually the referee lost patience with the Barnes pack and their disrupting of the Diss ball and awarded a penalty try, which Beaird again converted. Aarron Bliss was injured soon afterwards and Matt Briggs came on in his place.

Following another successful Barnes penalty, Diss pressure again told, and when Steve Hipwell broke through the Barnes defensive line Pete Bray took the offload to run in from 10m. With the successful conversion by Beaird, the home side were within two points and a shock result seemed possible.

Josh Williams came on for Steve Hipwell to try and give fresher legs a chance, but despite the efforts of the whole side Barnes pulled away with a penalty and a 'generous' penalty try to win 22-34, denying Diss a bonus point.

It had been a magnificent effort by the whole squad. As one Barnes member was heard to admit at the end: 'That was the hardest game we have had all season.'