Saturday, 25 May 2019

Simmons’ speed too much to handle as Abbey secure points

Simmons’ speed too much to handle as Abbey secure points

ABBEY overcame a slow start to record their first away win of the season at Slough last Saturday. The visitors trailed 10-0 after nearly half an hour but ended the game winners after crossing for three tries in each half.

The visitors conceded three penalties in quick succession at the start of the match and lost early line-out ball. Good tackling from the back row of Ed House, Mike Beckly and Maurice O’Connell kept Slough at bay in the first five minutes, but the home side kept pressing inside the Abbey 22.

In the eighth minute scrum half Tom Young burst through the Abbey defence, and his pass saw hooker Colby Short storm away to score a try. Skipper Max Miles added the conversion.

The visitors continued to concede penalties in the next 10 minutes as referee Laurent Morlet had several conversations with skipper Will Bevan. Just before the end of the opening quarter Miles took the score to 10-0 with a penalty from 30 metres.

At this stage Abbey had barely seen the Slough half and were forced to be content with mere scraps of possession until a good run and kick ahead from fullback Jules Greenaway gave them some momentum, and after outside half Arron Ross, second row Adam Brooker and prop Adam Postlethwaite had all handled Abbey were awarded a penalty. The position was a promising one, but centre Olly Walton hit the post and Slough were able to clear.

O’Connell won the next line-out for Abbey and good hands from Greenaway led to Ross and O’Connell making ground. Bevan kicked an Abbey penalty to touch, second row Chris Shaw won the subsequent line-out and a good run from centre Charlie Shackleford resulted in Slough being penalised again. Bevan’s kick took Abbey to within 12 metres of the Slough line and after Shaw had again won the throw a forward drive resulted in prop Russ Orrburns crossing for the visitors’ first try. Walton could not convert from the right touchline but with 27 minutes gone Abbey had their first points.

A good drive from Brooker was well supported by Bevan as Abbey attacked from the restart. Ross linked well with winger Alex Langford-Pollard and a good catch and kick from Greenaway took play into the home half.

Ross and Brooker carried on the attack but after good support from Beckly and hooker Matt Hart the ball was lost. At this point, Abbey brought on all three of their substitutes, with Ollie Charlton replacing Orrburns, Jeremy Knights replacing Shaw and Matt Simmons coming on for Beckly.

Simmons made an instant impression, making the first of many breaks from the back of a scrum and Abbey collectively upped the tempo of the game.

Brooker, Ross and winger John Malivore took play to the right of the pitch, and Greenaway collected Malivore’s pass to cross for a fine team try. Again the conversion attempt from Walton failed but Abbey were now firmly in the match and the scores were level.

Having taken so long to get into the game Abbey proceeded to dominate the final stages of the first half. Brooker ran well from the restart and Bevan’s high kick put pressure on Slough. Simmons made 10 metres from a scrum, Bevan darted a further 15 metres and Shackleford, Ross and Greenaway handled as Abbey looked to end the half on a high. Bevan and Knights took play towards the right touchline and then Malivore kicked ahead. The winger chased his own kick, and after gaining a favourable bounce he sped inside and touched down spectacularly under the posts for a good try. Walton converted, and Abbey transformed a 10-0 deficit into a half-time lead of 17-10.

Beckly returned in place of House as the second half kicked off, and at once Abbey went on the attack. The visitors’ scrum had looked under pressure in the first half, but now Abbey began to dominate the set piece, and once again Simmons made impressive ground from number eight.

Bevan, Malivore, O’Connell and Shackleford were all involved in the next move, before Slough counterattacked well and came close to a second try. Replacement Angus Blackley was hauled down just short of the line, but advantage was being played and Miles kicked the first points of the half after 45 minutes. Soon after a charge from Knights was supported by Ross and O’Connell and after Slough were penalised in front of their own posts Walton made the score 20-13 with a well-struck penalty. At this point Shaw returned in place of O’Connell.

Slough rallied and Miles landed a penalty from 35 metres to cut Abbey’s lead to four points. Abbey were soon back on the attack and just after the hour mark they claimed their bonus point try. Home number eight Joe Brawn made a 20-metre break but Abbey regained possession just inside the Slough half. The ball was gathered by Langford-Pollard and he sped 40 metres down the left touchline to score a fine individual try. Walton could not convert from a difficult angle.

Slough were caught in front of the kicker at the restart. Simmons, Knights, Walton and Shackleford led the next Abbey attack, and the fifth try soon followed. Bevan, Ross and Walton attacked towards the right inside the Slough 22, and the latter’s pass gave Greenaway a clear run to the corner. A touchline conversion from Walton took the score to 32-16.

Further changes were made at this stage, with Orrburns, House and O’Connell coming on for Postlethwaite, Shackleford and Brooker. This resulted in Beckly moving into the centre. House was soon involved in the action, and it was he who claimed Abbey’s final try. Bevan, Ross and Greenaway took play close to the home line, and when House received the ball he was driven over to the right of the posts. Walton hooked his conversion attempt, but with 10 minutes of normal time left Abbey had made the game safe.

Walton was injured with five minutes left, Shackleford returning in his place, and Slough raised their game in the final minutes. A prolonged spell of pressure resulted in centre Ben Foster crossing for a try in the right corner, and Miles added a conversion.

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