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Wednesday, 21 March 2018
ABBEY’S players suffered a collective off day in the mud and drizzle at Rosehill last Saturday, losing to Gosford All Blacks, the second-from-bottom team in Wadworth 6X Southern Counties North.
The visitors, who had won only once previously this season, got the basics right on a heavy pitch and fed off Abbey’s numerous errors. Two interception tries were conceded in a poor second half display, and this was a match Abbey will want to forget quickly.
Abbey’s lack of discipline was evident as early as the opening minute. They conceded a free kick at the first scrum, and after the visitors took a quick tap the hosts offended again, this time conceding a full penalty. Scrum half Tim Ellis landed the subsequent goal kick to give Gosford a lead they were destined never to lose.
Fullback Jules Greenaway caught the restart kick for Abbey and linked well with winger Dan Norville. Scrum half Diego de Marcilla Bahlsen broke clear inside his own 22, but the ball was lost in the tackle.
Abbey applied pressure at the next scrum and won themselves a penalty, and after outside half Jack Lambert-Taylor had found a good touch, skipper Jeremy Knights secured clean line out ball. Abbey attacked through second row Chris Shaw and winger Ryan Williams, and there were further encouraging signs when prop Richard King and flanker George House combined to rob the visitors of the ball at a ruck. But after Greenaway’s chip and chase nearly created some space for Williams, two more penalties were conceded in quick succession. From the second of these Ellis kicked successfully for the posts and Abbey were 6-0 down after 13 minutes.
Abbey hit back almost at once. Gosford knocked on the restart kick, and after centre Arron Ross made the initial break, Shaw drove into the visitors’ 22. Centre Charlie Shackleford then made a brilliant break towards the right, and after hooker Adam Postlethwaite provided good support, Ross went over for a good try in the corner. De Marcilla Bahlsen pulled his conversion attempt wide to the left.
The next 10 minutes saw Abbey attacking inside the opposition half, but whenever they looked like breaking through to score, either a knock on occurred or they conceded a penalty.
Some wayward kicking handed the initiative back to Gosford, but a knock on by their hooker Liam Donnelly gave Abbey the ball after a dangerous break from outside half Harry Sutton. De Marcilla Bahlsen’s grubber kick took play back into Gosford territory, and after a run by Greenaway Abbey won a penalty. Lambert-Taylor found a good touch inside the 22, but after George House had tidied up the line-out ball a penalty was conceded.
Abbey continued to press, and de Marcilla Bahlsen’s best run of the game saw him tackled into touch just short of the line on the right. George House did well to pinch the Gosford throw at the ensuing line-out, but another knock on saw Abbey lose the advantage.
The visitors conceded two more penalties in quick succession, the second of them meriting a team warning from referee Ritchie Denver, and Lambert-Taylor’s kick sent Abbey back into the Gosford 22. Shaw won the line-out, and after he had been driven five metres, Charlton broke clear on the left and ran to the line. Unfortunately, he put a foot in touch just before he crossed for what would have been a fine individual try.
Williams, Shaw, Ross and Shackleford had decent runs in the final minutes of the half but yet again a penalty was conceded when Abbey reached the opposition 22 and a frustrating 40 minutes ended with Abbey still trailing 6-5.
Changes were made at the interval, with Ben Finnie replacing George House and King returning in place of Charlton. The second half began with Greenaway and Norville attacking from deep. This led to de Marcilla Bahlsen and Shackleford taking play into the Gosford 22, but Abbey lost the ball after taking a tap penalty and second row Rich Tyler broke clear for the visitors. Lambert-Taylor lost possession just inside his own half and then sent an ill-directed kick towards his own 22. Gosford regained possession, and after a series of passes Sutton broke to the left and gave a scoring pass to supporting flanker Dan Hughes. Ellis saw his conversion attempt bounce wide via a post, but his side now led 11-5.
George House returned in place of the injured Webster, with Ed House moving from the flank to number eight. Abbey took play up to the visitors’ 22 yet again, but another de Marcilla Bahlsen break was ruined by a knock on and then Abbey were penalised again. After 50 minutes Tom Burns came on for Williams with Ross moving to the wing.
Soon after Lambert-Taylor’s pass to the right was intercepted by Sutton who raced the length of the field to score a try wide on the left. Ellis could not convert, but Abbey had fallen further behind after nearly an hour of play.
Abbey then lost a scrum against the head five metres from the Gosford line and right under the shadow of the posts. Charlton returned in place of King and immediately combined well with Burns in a good attacking move. Postlethwaite’s clever pick up kept the ball alive, but Sutton intercepted again, this time from Burns, and he nearly scored again after a long run.
A drive to the right corner saw the visitors held up over the Abbey line, at which point King came back for the injured Saunders. Shaw and Ross tried to attack from deep in their own half but again Abbey lost the ball.
With time almost up, Sutton again intercepted a Lambert-Taylor pass and ran 70 metres to touch down under the posts. Ellis’s successful conversion took his side to 23-5, at which point the referee blew the final whistle.
Abbey: J Greenaway, R Williams (T Burns, 50 mins), A Ross, C Shackleford, D Norville, J Lambert-Taylor, D de Marcilla Bahlsen, O Charlton (R King, 40-60 mins), A Postlethwaite, R King (J Saunders, 20-74 mins), J Knights, C Shaw, G House (B Finnie, 40 mins), E House, G Webster (G House, 45 mins).
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