Thursday, 11 August 2022

Relegated Abbey second best against promotion hopefuls

ABBEY were soundly beaten in the Newbury sunshine, going down to a heavy defeat against a team which needed to win in order to secure a play-off place.

The visitors were missing various players through injury or unavailability and were only able to field two replacements, while further injuries during the game resulted in several players appearing in unfamiliar positions.

Abbey started brightly with flankers Omar Ellaboudy and Ed House running and handling well. The forwards held their own at the opening scrum, but after conceding possession near the halfway line the visitors were soon forced to defend. A flowing move from Newbury ended with winger Cameron Golby-Barr being tackled into touch by Ellaboudy, but the tackle was high and Ellaboudy was instantly yellow-carded. Newbury kicked the ensuing penalty to touch, and after winning the subsequent line-out they were awarded a second penalty. This time skipper Dan Thorne kicked for goal, and his successful effort gave Newbury an early lead.

Abbey hit back when number eight Will Woodward made the initial break, after which outside half Ben Mitchell kicked into space. He then hacked the ball over the Newbury line and gave chase along with Walton and prop Ollie Charlton. With no Newbury player in sight, Mitchell just reached the ball ahead of his team mates to touch down for the try, but injured his hand in the process and was forced out of the match. The wind again spoiled Walton’s conversion attempt, but Abbey were now ahead after 12 minutes.

Ellaboudy returned to the action, slotting in at centre, and immediately Abbey looked dangerous in attack. Knights won good line-out ball, and in a good display of ball retention Woodward, Ellaboudy, Dampies, Charlton and House kept Abbey going forward. Eventually the ball was knocked on and Newbury instantly made Abbey pay for this. A good handling move from inside their own half finished with second row Rory Jones crossing the line and touching down under the posts. Dan Thorne converted.

Jamie Futcher then crossed the line for his side’s second try after receiving from Jones. Dan Thorne failed to convert, but he was successful three minutes later in converting Jones’s second try of the half.

The visitors’ cause was assisted when Golby-Barr was yellow-carded, but there was no further score in the first half and Abbey trailed 22-5 at the break.

Abbey conceded a penalty early in the second half and Newbury attacked once again with Pigott claiming a try, crossing under the sticks to give Dan Thorne a simple conversion kick.

Abbey took the game straight back to Newbury but the visitors were unable to score while Golby-Barr was off the field, and almost as soon as he returned he was celebrating a try, crossing wide on the right after centre Josh Love had intercepted a pass from Dampies. Dan Thorne’s conversion attempt went wide.

Abbey scored the next try of the game when a run from Greenaway took play to the home 22 and after Ellaboudy, Shaw and Dampies all went close, Hallett plunged over for the score. Winger Diego Garces de Marcilla Bahlsen took over the kicking duties and landed a the conversion to make the score 34-12. Newbury’s response was immediate and effective with Toby Thorne sending Love in under the posts, Dan Thorne adding the routine conversion.

Ellaboudy made 20 metres with a good run and after this a maul took play up to the home line. Bevan moved the ball to the left, and when he was stopped short of the line Walton picked up and sped over for a try. Once again Bahlsen added the conversion and the score was 41-19.

Newbury managed to steal possession and a further try resulted. This time the scorer was number eight Alex Millar with Dan Thorne converting.

Abbey fell away in the final 12 minutes, a period in which nothing went their way. First Ellaboudy was injured and had to leave the field. Then an injury to Toland saw the hooker assisted from the field with Ellaboudy forced to resume. Immediately afterwards Strugar was denied what looked to be a good try due to a forward pass, while the injury situation dictated that scrums were now uncontested. A 40 metre break from Dampies suggested the possibility of a fourth try for Abbey, but when Millar ripped the ball from Hallett’s grasp and nobody could stop him charging for the line. Dan Thorne missed the conversion but he did add the extras to the final try, scored by outside half Nick Wackwitz.

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