Tabard had a difficult start to the new season on Saturday, with a loss against old rivals Barking.

The defeat was all the more difficult because Tabard's stand-off from last year, Justin Azzopardi, was playing for the visitors.

The first half belonged to Barking as they put Tabard under a lot of pressure, and had the rub of the green as far as refereeing decisions went.

However, it was a bad bounce that wrong-footed Tabard, and gifted the visitors their first try of the match.

Barking's fullback, Green, pursued a long kick ahead which benefited from the bounce, and gathered the ball to touch down under the posts, giving Azzopardi an easy conversion.

For Barking's second try, they drove from the line-out and their hooker, Ambrose, was awarded the try, the referee, adjudging that he had touched down on the line.

Tabard were now 12 points adrift and began to fight their way back. Tabard's back row, of Jag Johal, Dallas James and Ben James, put in some hard tackles, and won some second phase ball, but could not get a vital score.

Then, to rub salt into the wound, Azzopardi kicked another penalty for Barking just on half-time.

After the turnaround, the game continued to favour Barking, with two further penalties from Azzopardi taking the score to 21-0. As the game drifted into the final quarter, Tabard's fitness began to tell, and they were able to take the game to their guests.

Some good kicks from substitute Matt Chalmers, at stand-off, gave Tabard territory, and then Chalmers made an upfield break that nearly saw Darren Choppin over in the corner.

Barking were penalised from the resulting line-out, and Tabard's Michael Skinner took a tapped ball, fed number eight Ron Matthews, and went over close to the posts, giving Skinner an easy conversion.

Tabard then scored from deep inside their own half. Choppin put in a long kick and caught Barking's winger in possession close to his line.

Tabard gained possession and Dallas James went over under the posts, and once again Skinner supplied the conversion.

Unfortunately, this rally was just too late and the referee's whistle brought an end to the proceedings, leaving Tabard with a defeat after the first game of the season.

TABARD: Dudley, Webb, Langsford, Williams, Choppin, Mansfield (Chalmers 40), Webb (Colette 60), Elvery, Lockwood, Sussum (Matthews 60), Evans, Johal, B James and D James.

*Tabard 14

Barking 21

National League Three South