Saturday, 20 August 2022

Abbey hold on to record their fifth league win of season on their travels

ABBEY had to work hard to withstand a second half fightback at Windsor to record their fifth win of the season in South West 1 East on Saturday.

The visitors looked in control during a largely uneventful first half, but they let a 14-0 lead slip before regaining control, only to have to produce some fierce defence in the final stages as the home side scented a late victory. Windsor managed to outscore Abbey by three tries to two in the second half.

Maurice O’Connell and prop Ed Whelan were both heavily involved as Abbey ran early ball. Centre Luke Burns made a break, and Jules Greenaway entered the line to good effect after a clever pass from scrum half Will Paige.

Abbey were pushed back at the first scrum of the game, but thereafter the visiting eight had the better of the set pieces.

Knights did well to disrupt an early Windsor line-out, and after flanker Kacper Kruzycki had kicked ahead, centre Arron Ross and flanker Chris Shaw took play into the home 22. Here Windsor were penalised and Garces de Marcilla put Abbey ahead with a good kick.

Kacper Kruzycki caught the restart kick – an area in which the visitors impressed throughout the afternoon – but Abbey were fortunate that Greenaway was on hand to block a kick ahead by Windsor winger John Hilton. Then Shaw stole a Windsor throw and Burns sent a probing kick into the home half. Another penalty resulted, but this time Garces de Marcilla was short of the target from 40 metres. A good driving run from Whelan – one of many from the loosehead during the afternoon — set up another good position for Abbey. A further penalty went their way, and Garces de Marcilla doubled the lead with a kick from the right hand side of the field. Soon after this he took a break as Dampies joined the action.

Ross and Dampies soon combined to give the latter his first run of the game. Abbey enjoyed a good spell of pressure near the Windsor line following a 40 metre burst from Dampies. Outside half Theo Evered combined well with Ross, but eventually a knock on let Abbey down when a try seemed likely.

With the first half drawing to a close, another good run from Whelan put Abbey back on the attack, and when Windsor were penalised yet again Burns landed a goal from 40 metres. This time it was Long’s turn to claim the restart kick safely. A challenging box kick from Paige kept the pressure on, and Abbey’s cause was helped when centre Joe Wood was yellow carded. Burns had a chance to add three more points with a long penalty, but his attempt fell short as the half ended with Abbey 9-0 ahead.

O’Connell made 50 metres with a great run at the start of the second half, and when he was tackled skipper Sam Hallett was up in support, only to be halted just short of the try line. An Abbey try followed soon afterwards when Shaw pinched a line-out and Greenaway burst through in centre field. His pass to the right gave Dampies ample room to show exactly why he is so difficult to catch in full flight. The fullback crossed for a great score, but Burns was unable to add the extras.

At this point Abbey looked as if they might run away with the game. Their cause was helped when Windsor were briefly reduced to 13 men when skipper Lawrence Hewitt was sin-binned. Garces de Marcilla replaced Paige at scrum half, and a good run from winger Charlie Gingell put Abbey in home territory once more.

Despite still having one man off the field, Windsor seemed suddenly to spring to life. A series of drives took them to within five metres of the Abbey line, and they got their first try of the game after 57 minutes when second row George Jupp powered over in the right corner from close range. Replacement Jack Gaylor could not convert, but he made the score 14-8 with a simple penalty soon afterwards. Ollie Charlton had replaced Long in the front row and Abbey lost Knights to a yellow card for obstructing Joe Wood when a Windsor try seemed on.

Abbey looked vulnerable and went behind for the first and only time in the game after 63 minutes when Moseley scored a solo try, dodging his way to the line and touching down between the sticks to give Gaylor an easy conversion kick.

Abbey replied in the best possible fashion by regaining the lead almost at once. Whelan started the move, after O’Connell, Kruzycki and Charlton had all handled, O’Connell received again and sent Dampies in for a brilliantly-worked try. Burns could not convert but Abbey were now 19-15 up.

Paige returned to the field again in place of Garces de Marcilla, while coach Fungai Mutepfa came on to replace the injured Hallett. Shaw, Burns and Dampies launched the next attack, Knights returned from the bin and Evered gained valuable ground with a clever chip kick which he caught himself. With 73 minutes gone the visitors were awarded a penalty which Burns scored. Three minutes later he added a harder effort and at 25-15 Abbey looked to have reached the comfort zone again.

The rest of the game belonged to Windsor. The home side pounded away at the line, and the bravery of Toland, who got underneath a Windsor ball carrier, prevented a certain score. Abbey’s hooker emerged with his face covered in blood, and Garces de Marcilla had to replace him for the final few minutes.

The game was now in injury time, and Windsor were still encamped near the Abbey line. Burns was yellow carded as Abbey’s desperate defence continued, and Windsor finally found a way through when Joe Wood touched down wide on the right. A conversion from Gaylor cut Abbey’s lead to three points, but they managed to keep Windsor in their own half for the last two minutes of the game. The sound of the final whistle brought huge relief to both to the players and the anxious group of Abbey supporters watching the game.

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