ABBEY were blown away by a clinical performance from newly-promoted Stow-on-the-Wold on Saturday, writes Mark Hoskins.
The visitors conceded nine tries while home goalkicker Nick Cafearo landed all his conversions as well as four out of four penalty attempts. The winger also claimed two tries to finish with a personal haul of 40 points.
Abbey began brightly and after scrum half Steve Drake had gained good ground with a penalty kick, skipper Sam Hallett and centre Alex Hogg made promising breaks. These led to the award of a penalty just outside the home 22 which outside half Kye Machin kicked to give the visitors the lead.
This lead was short-lived, and Stow scored their first try four minutes later when centre James Holmes crossed wide on the left. Cafearo struck the conversion. Minutes later, with Abbey’s scrum in disarray inside their own 22, Cafearo landed a penalty to stretch his side’s lead to 10-3.
Abbey suffered a blow after 17 minutes when Hogg departed with an injury, his place being taken by Tom Jaffray, with Liam Somers moving from wing to centre.
Both Somers and hooker Mark Toland attempted to launch attacks, but by now it was clear that Abbey were struggling to contain the Stow eight at the scrums. They elected to go for a line-out instead of a scrum on their own 22. The ball was lost, Stow spun it to the right and Cafearo touched down, adding an immaculate conversion from the right touchline.
Abbey continued to attack with any scrap of possession which came their way and after Ross ran from defence Machin and winger Charlie Gingell almost manufactured a try. After half an hour Cafearo kicked another penalty and shortly afterwards Abbey replaced prop Ollie Charlton with Toby Chapman. Seven minutes later Cafearo scored his side’s third try in the left corner, again converting. He added another penalty with the final kick of the half to give Stow a 30-3 lead at the break.
Within a minute of the restart flanker Chris Powlesland charged in under the sticks to register Stow’s bonus point try, and four minutes later fullback Alex Kelly was put in for another try after a break from winger Jeff Flather. Cafearo conversions took the score to 44-3. Abbey competed well for the next few minutes before Kelly scored again, crossing wide on the right with Cafearo’s conversion attempt hitting the left post before crossing the bar, giving the home a side a 51-3 lead.
Stow’s next try, scored in the 55th minute, came from replacement scrum half Matt Green. Cafearo converted, and then took everyone by surprise by opting to go for goal from a wide 38 metre penalty which he scored.
By now Abbey’s half backs had changed positions and with Hallett attacking spent some time in the home 22. However, when Stow broke clear they scored once again, Holmes crossing after a good run. Cafearo converted.
Abbey then defended manfully as Stow sought a further try from a series of five metre scrums. The visitors even succeeded in turning one home scrummage, and a break by Jaffray relieved the pressure. Stow had the final word, with Holmes grabbing his hat-trick try. This was followed by a final Cafearo conversion.
Abbey: A Ross, L Somers, A Hogg (T Jaffray, 17 mins), T Brain, C Gingell, K Machin, S Drake, O Charlton (T Chapman, 34-62 mins), M Toland, L Daniels, C Shaw (M Hathaway, 40-67 mins), S Hallett, M Beckley (M Hathaway, 77 mins), D Garhard, P Emery.