Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Visitors make their numerical advantage count

ALTHOUGH there were some outstanding individual performances, second-half ill-discipline hampered Abbey’s otherwise pleasing return to attacking rugby following the previous week’s derby defeat at Reading.

A brace from centre Ben Mitchell and a well-controlled try from skipper Will Woodward, taking the reins in injured Will Bevan’s absence, wasn’t enough to secure the win over second-placed Beaconsfield in Southern Counties North.

Early defensive pressure from the home team startled the visitors, with solid tackles from scrum-half Gavin Dampies and fullback Jack Lambert-Taylor forcing Beaconsfield to concede errors and penalties.

When Abbey won back the ball, Dampies orchestrated some good phases of play at a high tempo, allowing locks Chris Shaw and Jeremy Knights to make effective carries. After fly-half Rob Bryson’s first attempt at the posts drifted wide, Mitchell picked a weaving line through the centre, sidestepping the defence to register the first points of the afternoon.

Beaconsfield were quick to react at the restart and responded immediately with their inside centre blistering down the wing. Their converted try was the last points of the first half, yet Abbey continued to pile on the pressure through constant carries and tactical kicking.

Too often, however, it was the last pass that went awry or their attacking platform was lost with the ball at the back of rucks. As Beaconsfield regained possession, it was frantic scramble defence that led to winger Jules Greenaway, who had enjoyed some fine runs so far, being shown yellow for a high tackle.

The second half saw Abbey start brightly again, albeit with 14 men, and winger Remi Norville tore into Beaconsfield’s half once more. Flanker Ed House’s subsequent carry saw a fine bit of playmaking from the back row, who released Mitchell to power over the line, with Bryson adding the extras.

Beaconsfield, still with the man advantage, started to play a much more tactical game and began to work their way up the pitch, aided by Abbey’s frequent infringements. Their fly-half successfully landed two penalties to give them a one-point advantage while Abbey started to look unnerved for the first time.

Repeated errors saw Shaw and prop Ollie Charlton yellow-carded and Beaconsfield used this to their advantage once more, scoring in the corner to have the final say of the day.

Last-gasp efforts by Abbey were all but in vain although Ed House’s impressive work rate continued until the dying minutes stealing ball from tackled Beaconsfield players; it was the visiting side though who had the pleasure of kicking a winning ball into touch.

Abbey now have a rare weekend off before the long trip to Stow-on-the-Wold on November 25.

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