Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Heartache for Abbey as late missed conversion condemns them to narrow defeat

FOR the second week running Abbey more than held their own against one of the teams

FOR the second week running Abbey more than held their own against one of the teams newly relegated into South West Division 1 East, going down at home by a single point to Old Patesians.

In a game of fluctuating fortunes the home side dominated territory for the bulk of the first half, while Pats were the superior side for most of the second period. However, the visitors only went ahead as the game entered injury time, and even after that Abbey scored a try which, had it been converted, would have won them the game.

Abbey had the advantage of quite a strong wind in the first half, and they soon showed that their big pack would be competitive. Skipper Sam Hallett and his fellow second row Michal Kruzycki both won early line out ball while flanker Omar Ellaboudy made good early ground with a driving run.

Sharp passing from outside half Theo Evered and a good tactical kick from his half back partner Will Page kept the pressure on the visitors, and Will Woodward made the first of the many storming runs which characterised an impressive afternoon for Abbey’s number eight. After 12 minutes of continuous presence in the Patesians’ half, a penalty from centre Ollie Walton gave Abbey the lead.

Patesians made a hash of the restart kick, and Abbey resumed their attacks with prop Ed Whelan making an impressive 20 metres. Ellaboudy again looked dangerous inside the Pats’ 22, and soon Walton doubled his side’s lead with a further penalty.

Paul Emery replaced Whelan after 17 minutes and soon after this another run from Ellaboudy and good kick into space by Page set up the position from which Abbey were awarded another penalty which Walton missed but he made amends two minutes later to put Abbey 9-0 up after 22 minutes.

Abbey continued to play flowing rugby at pace, and their cause was helped when Matt Dean, the Pats’ outside half, was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on.

The numerical advantage was short-lived as Michal Kruzycki soon joined Dean on the sidelines after throwing a punch. While he was off the field Abbey brought centre Luke Burns into the back of the scrum when there was a set piece in the home 22.

At this stage of the game Patesians finally came to life, and they looked the stronger side during the last 10 minutes of the first half. Flanker George Angell made good ground for the visitors with a strong run, and after a Pats’ line-out drive the ball was moved to the left where second row Josh Stevens crossed for the first try of the afternoon. The conversion bounced wide off the right post.

Whelan returned at the start of the second half, replacing hooker Ollie Charlton with Emery moving to the middle of the front row. Abbey were soon defending again, with Whelan, Woodward and Ellaboudy all tackling well, but after a period of sustained pressure Carter reduced the home lead to a single point with a penalty. Soon after winger Duncan Spurrier made a 60 metre run, only to be halted by Emery deep in the home 22.

Maurice O’Connell replaced Kacper Kruzycki in the back row, and in a brief flurry attacking from Abbey Hallett, Whelan and Michal Kruzycki all carried well.

Brothers Kruzycki replaced each other after 63 minutes, but holes were now beginning to appear in the home midfield.

With 10 minutes remaining Abbey found momentum following a great clearance kick from Burns. A series of drives took play right up to the visitors’ line, and when Ellaboudy and Burns moved the ball to the left Dampies came close to crossing the line in the corner. Then the forwards took control with Hallett only just failing to reach the lines following a series of drives. A score at this stage, or failing that the ability to stay in the Pats’ 22, might have been enough to give Abbey victory, but the ball was lost at a line out and the visitors went back on the attack. With one minute of injury time played they finally took the lead when Harrod stormed over under the posts, scrum half James Aherne adding the routine conversion.

Abbey went on the attack in an effort to rescue the game. They retained possession superbly during a series of phases, and they got a deserved reward when Dampies sprinted over in the right corner. His try left Walton with the almost impossible task of conquering a tricky wind to win the game with a conversion from the touchline which was missed.

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