AN INJURY-TIME penalty by fullback Tom Waterhouse allowed Abbey to sneak past South West Division Southern Counties North newcomers Swindon
AN INJURY-TIME penalty by fullback Tom Waterhouse allowed Abbey to sneak past South West Division Southern Counties North newcomers Swindon College Old Boys in the opening match of the new season on Saturday, writes Mark Hoskins.
The visitors were the better side in the first half, and scrum half Steve Drake signalled his return to Abbey colours with a virtuoso performance. He constantly made life difficult for both his opposite number and the home number eight.
Despite receiving a regular supply of lineout ball from skipper Sam Hallett and Danny Pawlett, and despite spending virtually the entire first half in College territory, Abbey could not cross the try line.
Abbey took the lead after eight minutes when Waterhouse thumped over a penalty from 45 metres, but thereafter a series of promising attacking moves ended with the final pass either going astray or in some cases not being delivered at the correct time.
In the second half centre Scott Buchanan missed a penalty for the home side after five minutes of the half before College missed a certain try when centre Greig O’Brien dropped the ball with the line at his mercy.
Abbey centre Ollie Walton produced the tackle of the half to halt a dangerous move near his own line, but moments later College scored a good try in the right corner, winger Charlie Grabe crossing after receiving from O’Brien. Buchanan, who had looked an impressive and accurate kicker during the warm-up, failed to convert.
The try galvanised Abbey into life and they regained the lead almost at once. Waterhouse hit the right post with a penalty from the left touchline, but when the ball rebounded replacement centre Dan Love was on hand to catch it and battle his way over the line for the try. Waterhouse converted to give his side a 10-5 lead.
Back came the hosts and they were level when winger Daniel Cooper scored wide on the left. Once again Buchanan missed the conversion.
With normal time almost up the score remained level as Waterhouse had a chance to restore Abbey’s lead with a 40-metre penalty, but his kick veered to the left and missed the target.
As the game entered injury time a draw looked the likely outcome but in the 85th minute Abbey launched one more attack and they were awarded a penalty to the left of the posts 30 metres out. This time Waterhouse made no mistake, striking the ball between the uprights.
Reading Abbey: T Waterhouse, A Ross, O Walton, T Brain (D Love, 40 mins), C Gingell, T Draper, S Drake, O Charlton, J Holden, M Toland (M Hathaway, 27-66 mins), D Pawlett (C Shaw, 27 mins), S Hallett, S Willis (D Pawlett, 66 mins), F Mutepfa, P Emery (M Toland, 49-66 mins).