Sunday, 14 August 2022

Walton bags brace to help side sink Royal Wootton Bassett

TWO tries from centre Ollie Walton bagged a bonus point for Abbey, who came from behind to win at home

TWO tries from centre Ollie Walton bagged a bonus point for Abbey, who came from behind to win at home to Royal Wootton Bassett.

Abbey head coach Russell Bolton made five changes from last week’s team and handed debuts to Jacques Ellis as prop, colt Kye Machin at outside half and Mike Beckley as flanker in an entirely changed back row while Paul Emery and Steve Willis made welcome returns.

Beckley replaced Dan Pawlett who faces four weeks out with a shoulder injury. Fungai started on the bench.

The start was lively as Steve Drake was unlucky not to score from a clever kick and chase within two minutes.

The Royals struck back from turnover ball, demanding the best defensive work from Arron Ross to prevent a score. Charlie Gingell then burst through with a cutting run, but was penalised for hanging on to the ball when he was pulled down short of the line.

Abbey were the first with points on the board. Sam Hallett charged over in the 17th minute for Tom Waterhouse to add two extra points.

Hallett played a captain’s role all afternoon, relishing playing with Willis, both making ground continually. Hallett’s try came from ball popped inside by scrum half Steve Drake who brings so much talent on his return to his home club.

The lead was soon wiped out as Abbey errors were punished. A missed tackle down the narrow side saw first Karl Brand go over and a second missed tackle allowed winger Grand Murdoch to touch down with Bruce Elliott adding the extras to go in front.

More Abbey errors followed with three sloppy passes intercepted, calling for hurried defensive measures, going offside in front of their posts to hand the Royals three more points.

Tom Waterhouse pulled back that penalty, but they trailed at the turnaround 10-15.

Coach Bolton called on replacements for the second period. Toby Chapman came on to replace Ollie Charlton, Fungai replaced Beckly and Ollie Walton came into the centre with Ross moving out to the wing as Liam Somers took the bench. Chapman proceeded to produce his best game for the club so far.

It was a livelier Abbey side who started the second half. They tightened play and reduced the error count and were lifted by an early try from Walton feeding off his fellow centre Tim Brain, who was in top form. Waterhouse added the two points.

The momentum was maintained when the visitors’ winger was sin binned for 10 minutes. Arron Ross revelled in the space on his wing, putting Tim Brain over for a try converted by Waterhouse.

Just when the Rosehill faithful thought they were home and dry, the Royals worked their way back into the game after Toland had been sin binned for overvigorous work.

Two kicks at goal were missed but with just two minutes left their forwards touched down for a converted try to bring themselves just two points off the home side. With time running out, Abbey were soon reduced to 13 as Willis was sin binned defending his line.

It was a frantic finale as the visitors hurried to make the most of two extra men but Abbey handled the panic better. They escaped their half, forced a 22 drop out from the visitors who made a hash of it. Abbey’s alert Walton charged a poor effort down, then followed up the loose ball and grabbed the winning try and the bonus point.

Reading Abbey: Charlton (Chapman), Toland, Jacques Ellis, Hallett, Shaw, Willis, Beckly (Fungai), Emery, Drake, Machin, Gingell, Brain, Ross, Somers (Walton), Waterhouse.

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