AN Abbey squad shorn of a number of regular players and containing various new faces
AN Abbey squad shorn of a number of regular players and containing various new faces was given a rigorous test by Henley Bulls in a pre-season fixture at Rosehill on Saturday.
The Bulls scored 10 tries in total, seven of them in the opening 40 minutes. The game was divided into four 20-minute quarters with pauses in between, and Abbey improved vastly in the latter stages of the match, winning the last quarter by three tries to one.
Henley Bulls scored almost at will in the first quarter as they broke through some fairly fragile home defence. Two tries were registered in the opening seven minutes and a further two before the first 20 minutes ended. A further three tries followed in the next quarter, two of which were converted, leaving Abbey 41-0 down at half-time.
The second half began badly for Abbey with another unconverted try being scored direct from the kick-off, and although Shaw began to pinch some ball at the line-out a further converted try took the score to 53-0.
Abbey then enjoyed a purple patch leading up to their first try. Prompted by the darting breaks of scrum half Louis Pawlett, the home side began to batter away at the Bulls’ line, with hooker Paul Emery, number eight Will Woodward, outside half Theo Evered and replacement Jerry Sutherland all being stopped just short. At this point a visiting player was yellow-carded, and then, after a further break from Pawlett, replacement Carlos Esteban dived over the line for an Abbey try.
The final quarter began with Abbey trailing 53-5, Gavin Dampies then picked up a loose ball inside his own 22, dashed away and outpaced the Bulls’ defence to score an individual try. Centre Ben Davis saw his conversion attempt bounce wide off a post.
Emery made a good break, and after Evered and Dampies exchanged passes, the outside half crossed for Abbey’s third try, the conversion again being missed.
After Abbey got on top at a five metre scrum, Emery, who had by now moved to the back row, powered over for his side’s last try, Davies adding the conversion.
Just before the end of the match, Henley Bulls went on the attack again and scored one more unconverted try.
Abbey: G Dampies, C Livermore, B Davis, J Beaumont, S Dewar, T Evered, L Pawlett, E Whelan, P Emery, L Rolland, T Clark, M Kruzycki, C Shaw, Z Collicott, W Woodward. Replacements (all used): T Chapman, L Dixon, A Postlethwaite, O Charlton, J Knights, C Esteban, J Sutherland, M Chapman, T Smith.