Saturday, 19 August 2017

Abbey fail to make numerical advantage count

SWINDON ran in five tries as they ran out winners in last Saturday’s South West League Division 1 East clash with visitors Abbey who, in response, scored two tries through Jules Greenaway and Gavin Dampies.

Despite holding their league position, Abbey again saw those clubs beneath them make up valuable ground so there is now just a two point difference between them and the club in the third relegation slot.

Abbey were the architects of their own misfortune; poor communication in defence at the start, missed penalties, too many handling errors, and a failure to punish Swindon when yellow cards had reduced them to 14 men. There was a new pairing in the centres and uncertainty as to which defence to employ Abbey stood and watched, conceding three tries in the opening 15 minutes with wingers Johnny Morrison, Jordan Sheppard and centre Sam Williams touching down for Swindon with two converted by fly-half Adam Westall.

Abbey flanker Tom Huggins switched to be alongside centre Aaron Ross and the hole was plugged with no more scores from Swindon during the half.

The visitors started to apply pressure, the pack having an impact in the loose with big carries, and if the backs’ handling had been more secure, greater reward than the single try grabbed by Greenaway just before the break would have been achieved. Luke Burns added the extras to his two earlier penalty goals. Although Burns did his best in the absence of a regular place kicker, it meant 12 points had gone begging as Abbey trailed 19-13 at half-time.

The Rosehill travelling support remained positive that the deficit could be overhauled, especially as the second half started brightly. However, a sloppy offload allowed Swindon to escape their half and sting the visitors with their fourth bonus winning try on the hour; the scorer was prop Guido Suarez, driven over following a five-metre scrum. Westall converted.

All was not lost, two converted tries would do it for Abbey, not an over-optimistic hope, as the forwards carried the ball well, Shaw, Knights, Hallett and Cole all making impressive yardage, as did Woodward when he made a welcome return to the team. The backs began to click and attack. Ross threatened with a strong run, Burns darted forward, but Dampies got the important try with 10 minutes left. Safer hands would have brought greater reward, but there was still time left, despite the conversion going awry.

Desperate interpassing searching for the gap in the last minutes allowed Swindon’s winger Johnny Morrison to run in beneath the posts with an intercept try, Westall adding the last two points, that added gloss to Swindon’s win.

In keeping Abbey at bay, Swindon conceded penalties, and took three yellow cards for technical offences, that’s 30 minutes playing time with 14 men, during which Abbey couldn’t punish with points.

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