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Tuesday, 20 February 2018
A TRY each for fullback Gavin Dampies and scrum-half Will Bevan last Saturday secured the win that leapfrogs Abbey above Grove to fifth place in the South West League Division 1 East table.
When the two sides met four years ago Grove embarrassed Abbey with a heavy defeat but this Abbey side has a resilience about it that was determined not to repeat the experience.
Three changes, all through unavailability, were made from the side that performed so well the week before at Chippenham. In the backs Will Paige came in for winger Charlie Gingell, David Cole in the centre replaced Ollie Walton, and prop Patrick McSweeney stood in for Luke Daniels.
Grove came out of the blocks the quicker of the two sides and were soon pressing for an early try. Capitalising on pressure from the start, Grove set up an attacking line out on the left. Although cleanly won it was slow to get the centre by which time Abbey had snuffed out the threat but had conceded a kickable penalty which the visiting fullback scuffed wide.
Having been let off the hook, Abbey were stung to reply with their own pressure, their mobile pack forcing the pace with Chris Shaw and Will Woodward prominent.
Fullback Gavin Dampies found space on the right but was hauled down short of the line but his supporting back row picked the ball, saw Dampies repositioned on the narrow side and put him over for the first try. This was too far out for outside half Luke Burns to add the extras. Ten minutes later Burns made amends with a penalty goal.
From the re-start kick Grove took possession and with a clever kick to touch were in a threatening position. The line out led to a scrum with Grove having the put in. With stable set piece Grove made the most of the threatening position to move the ball to the right where the centres took contact, recycled the ball to their winger who rounded the defence to cross the white wash for a try that was subsequently converted to make it 8-7 at half-time.
With both sides equally matched in set piece, the difference was Abbey’s pack in the loose and the team’s defensive organisation. Although Grove played their part and worked hard they rarely threatened the Abbey line. With their few penalties they opted to go for touch followed by the drive for the try, which came to nothing on Abbey’s solid defence.
With Abbey looking ever stronger it was scrum half Will Bevan who finished off sustained pressure by nipping over for a short yardage try, which Luke Burns had no problems putting over.
Thereafter Abbey were unable to add to the score board whilst Grove failed to find a way through the home side’s stout defence.
Abbey: Whelan, Toland, McSweeney, Knights, Hallett, Shaw, O’Connell, Woodward, Bevan, Burns, Greenaway, Cole, Ross, Paige, Dampies, reps, all used Charlton, Gingell, Ellaboudy.
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