Guernsey ran in a magnificent seven tries as their backline made the most of a dry day at Footes Lane with a potent display of power, pace and precision that had the Garenne Stand purring at times, although the stop-start nature of the second half as injuries mounted meant the contest lost some of its fizz.
In contrast, the home side’s defence fell well short of the admittedly high standards set in the victory over Dings Crusaders a week earlier and allowed second-from-bottom Barnstaple to score three tries of their own, much to Jordan Reynolds’ chagrin.
‘Really disappointed that they scored the 24 points because I think our defence, compared to last week against Dings, was really soft. That’s a mental attitude that once again we have when we play these bottom sides,’ said the Raiders director of rugby after beating Barnstaple 50-24.
‘Attack-wise, I thought we were really good and once again our bench came on and made a huge impact and a huge improvement for us as well.’
Guernsey could hardly have got off to a better start, although in hindsight taking only 33 seconds to score the opening try of the game did not do them many favours.
It was a superbly executed try, with Owen Thomas weighting his chip over the top of the defence to perfection, allowing a charging Ciaran McGann to gather and draw a defender before offloading to Anthony Armstrong on the right wing and he galloped to the line.
But having got off to such a flier, Raiders then proceeded to take their foot off the gas for the next 10 minutes and found themselves trailing after nine minutes when, after visiting centre Daniel Johnson, who proved hard to bring down all afternoon, made good yards following a neat sidestep, flanker Bryn-Lee Jago scrambled his way to the line and Kyran McManus added the conversion.
That try jolted Raiders back into life.
Within seven minutes they had retaken the lead with a try created and scored by the pack, with James Burger getting the congratulations as they piled over the line in the right-hand corner.
Five minutes later another well-judged kick from fly-half Thomas released Callum Roberts down the left and after he hacked on, he was brought down without the ball by Barnstaple winger Ross Swales who was sent to the sin-bin for his offence.
Guernsey capitalised on their numerical advantage by scoring twice in the subsequent 10 minutes.
The first of those tries was beautiful in its simplicity and took the green-and-whites from their own 5m line to the other end of the pitch in the matter of a few seconds as fullback Joe Andresen turned on his afterburners on a curving run out to the left wing before drawing the last defender and offloading back inside to Roberts who sprinted to the line.
Although McManus briefly narrowed the gap to nine points with a penalty from distance, Roberts was soon at it again, this time finishing off in the left-hand corner after a break on halfway from lively scrum-half Charlie Simmonds and Raiders had the four-try bonus point in the bag after 33min.
Virtually as soon as Barnstaple were restored to a full complement, McManus and Joshua Pilkington sparked an attack that resulted in their second try, scored at full-stretch by Winston James, but a Thomas penalty on the stroke of half-time gave Guernsey a 29-17 lead at the interval.
Unfortunately, the Raiders fly-half would play only three minutes of the second half before a big hit left him groggy and he was replaced by Dan Rice, with that stoppage a sign of what was to come in a half that lasted the best part of an hour.
When they were able to play, though, the home backs demonstrated their potency.
On 50min. McGann scored his side’s fifth try showing both his acceleration and brawn to reach the line from Simmonds’ flat pass and seven minutes later both were involved in a neat interchange that sliced open the Barnstaple defence and resulted in bright replacement centre Charlie Davies racing to the line.
The gutsy visitors were not finished yet, though, and managed to score a third try through the forwards with Gavin Mitchell credited with the touchdown.
However, the final word went to man-of-the-moment McGann, albeit in somewhat bizarre circumstances five minutes from time.
Just when it appeared that Barnstaple had withstood a prolonged Raiders onslaught and managed to turn the ball over just a few metres from their own line, they took the high-risk option of attempting a short chip and chase.
The execution was poor and McGann took full advantage, catching the kick before spinning through a tackle and striding to the line.
ST JACQUES VIKINGS and Bournemouth Seconds could not be separated in a hard-fought clash on Saturday which ended 19-19.