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Monday, 23 July 2018
ABBEY NUNS were pushed all the way as they edged Newbury Ladies 24-20 to set up a Junior Cup final clash with Lewes, writes Fiona Tomas.
The league champions remain on course to finish the season with double silverware but their local rivals came within inches of ending their 18-match-winning streak in what was a tense encounter.
The opening quarter saw Abbey pin their league rivals in their own half with a series of strategic kicks as scrum-half Ellie Rice organised the forward lines.
Alice Denton found herself uncharacteristically bundled into touch but Abbey’s patience was rewarded when Abi Wall and Denton combined to feed fullback Hayley Matthews who crossed the whitewash.
Abbey consolidated their lead when Annette Tomas changed the direction of play after an intelligent pass from Rice and touched down under the posts.
But Newbury, buoyed by a penalty on the stroke of half-time, looked the brighter team after the break and tested Abbey’s defence. Forwards Meghan Fowler and Hollie King provided some huge tackles but Newbury’s own front-row released their backs and their winger crossed the corner in a well-worked penalty move.
Abbey responded through a good scrum and Joey Fowler picked up the ball to release Tomas who raced through the centre to cross the line at 17-10. But the Nuns had to battle the last 15 minutes with 14 players after Tomas saw yellow after a high tackle.
Abbey regrouped and a good run from King released Denton who raced down the wing to score under the posts and converted her own try to make it 24-10. Newbury scored a penalty and grabbed a consolation try at the death, but it was not enough as Abbey ran out winners.
The cup final will be played at Royal Wootton Bassett RFC on April 1.
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