Sunday, 14 August 2022

Murphy’s treble helps Abbey secure first ever win against local rivals

THREE penalties from outside half Joe Murphy were just enough to give Abbey their first ever

THREE penalties from outside half Joe Murphy were just enough to give Abbey their first ever league victory over local rivals Reading in the eagerly-awaited derby at Rosehill on Saturday.

In a tight encounter both sides had spells of dominance, but while Reading claimed the only try of the match Abbey looked stronger in the closing stages of the game and just about deserved their victory. The result means that the two teams change places in the league, with Abbey now eighth and Reading ninth.

Hooker Mark Toland was part of the initial drive as Abbey took the game to their opponents, and after flanker Kacper Kruzycki won the first line-out of the game, Toland, winger Oli Lovett and centre Arron Ross all handled.

After good bursts from Omar Ellaboudy and skipper Sam Hallett Abbey were awarded a penalty which Murphy scored from in front of the posts to give his side the lead after five minutes.

Ellaboudy performed the all-important safe catch following Reading’s restart kick, but soon afterwards Abbey were penalised 35 metres from their posts. Outside half Matt Smart kicked for goal, but the ball dropped narrowly wide to the right.

Abbey went back on the attack, with Murphy kicking and running well to set up a series of good positions. Centre Luke Burns linked well with Ross, and prop Frank Long made good ground from a drive. Both Burns and Ellaboudy then made important tackles when Reading attempted to counterattack. Abbey applied pressure at the next scrum, and Hallett, Toland and number eight Will Woodward were involved in a move which resulted in the award of another Abbey penalty in a kickable position but Murphy’s 40 metre kick drifted to the right.

Winger Jules Greenaway had a good run down the middle of the pitch, but Abbey were penalised for not releasing after the tackle and Reading opted to kick for territory. From the resultant line-out they went through the phases patiently inside the home 22, and when the ball was moved wide to the left winger Chris Grieg just had enough space and strength to hold off fullback Gavin Dampies to cross for a try. Smart’s attempted conversion veered to the right of the sticks.

With 32 minutes played a penalty was awarded to Abbey on the Reading 22 metre line and Murphy restored their lead with a good kick. The rest of the half belonged to Reading. Ellaboudy again claimed the restart kick, but Abbey were caught offside in front of their posts and Smart put the visitors 8-6 up with his successful kick.

Smart came off with an ankle injury at half-time, and Reading moved winger Stuart Borthwick to number 10.

Early in the half Hallett and Ellaboudy had made ground and Murphy had a chance to reclaim the lead for Abbey but his 30 metre penalty bounced wide off the right post.

After an hour of play Abbey got what proved to be the decisive score of the game. Ellaboudy was involved in the build-up, and after the visitors were penalised inside their own 22 Murphy found the target to make the score 9-8 in Abbey’s favour. Few would have put money on Murphy’s kick providing the only points of the second half, but this proved to be the case. Chris Shaw replaced Hallett in the home pack and quickly made an impression with a tackle on the impressive Cranton. After this Abbey seemed to rediscover the form and confidence they had shown in the opening quarter.

Woodward, Ellaboudy and prop Liam Dixon all made telling drives and Shaw was stopped five metres from the Reading try line. With 10 minutes remaining Lovett left the field clutching his shoulder and Paige returned to play on the wing. Kacper Kruzycki brought off a good tackle on fullback Alex Murray Smith, while Dampies defied his lack of stature to halt Cranton.

Abbey were then awarded a penalty wide on the right, and Murphy’s rather optimistic attempt at goal resulted in the ball drifting across the face of the posts. Five minutes remained as Reading sent Smart back to re-join the action.

Abbey were now camped in the Reading 22, where Michal Kruzycki, Woodward and Toland all made ground. Abbey then conceded a penalty which resulted in Reading finding touch on the half way line. They over-threw at the subsequent lineout, and at the next breakdown Abbey were awarded a penalty.

Only 20 seconds of injury time had been played at this stage, but referee James Pidding, who applied tight control throughout the match, announced last play as the ball was booted to touch.

Abbey: G Dampies, J Greenaway, A Ross, L Burns, O Lovett (W Paige, 70 mins), J Murphy, W Paige (C Gingell, 56 mins), F Long, M Toland, L Dixon, S Hallett (C Shaw, 63 mins), M Kruzycki, K Kruzycki, O Ellaboudy, W Woodward. Replacement not used: F Mutepfa.

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