Thursday, 18 August 2022

Abbey’s disappointing run of form continues on the road

ABBEY suffered a third consecutive defeat in Southern Counties North, conceding six tries against a team which they had beaten

ABBEY suffered a third consecutive defeat in Southern Counties North, conceding six tries against a team which they had beaten comfortably almost exactly a year ago, writes Mark Hoskins.

The visitors were competitive for much of the game but they paid a heavy price for their failure to retain possession in crucial positions and avoidable tries were conceded.

Abbey found themselves trailing after just two minutes, when Thatcham number eight Mark Smith burst through some attempted tackles on the halfway line. The ball was moved to the right, and winger Rob Horne crossed for a simple try in the corner. The wind defeated outside half Joe Leadley’s attempted conversion. The visitors raised their game and enjoyed territorial advantage for a while. With consistent centre Tim Brain and fullback Dan Love both handling well, play reached the home 22 and after further pressure Thatcham found themselves throwing in at a line out five metres from their own line. Abbey contested it well, the ball eluded the home pack and prop Ollie Charlton pounced for an opportunist try. Steve Drake was unable to land a difficult conversion.

Abbey then messed up an attempt to run a penalty inside their own 22. Possession was needlessly lost, the ball was spun to the left and winger Liam Rowley scored in the corner. Once again Leadley was unable to conquer the elements when he attempted his conversion. The home side scored their third try when centre Matt Billinghurst burst through to score to the right of the posts. This time Leadley converted.

Abbey contributed to their own downfall in the dying stages of the first half, conceding an extra 10 metres for dissent when they were penalised, and turning a likely touch kick into an attempt at the posts. Leadley landed the goal and Thatcham led 20-5.

Just before half-time Abbey prop Luke Daniels left the field with an injury, Jake Mollett replacing him.

The wind was far less of a threat in the second half, but when it blew it was now more in Thatcham’s favour. A touch kick from Leadley took play close to the Abbey line, but Hallett rescued the situation and Abbey made it to the half way line. The visitors threatened briefly through winger Steve Warwick, but he was injured during the attack, and while he was receiving attention on the pitch a clever kick into space from Leadley exposed Abbey’s lack of cover. Despite the best efforts of Love, Rowley got to the ball as it reached the visitors’ line and touched down for the bonus point try. Leadley converted superbly from the left touchline.

A series of drives with Willis prominent took the visitors to within five metres of the Thatcham line and when possession was recycled Drake scuttled over for a try wide on the left. He could not convert the score, the wind sending his kick well wide.

Thatcham extended their lead to 30-10 when Leadley kicked a penalty from 35 metres. The home side then scored the best try of the afternoon, spinning the ball to the right to create an overlap. Centre Jamie Evans crossed for the score, with Leadley adding the conversion.

Abbey gallantly attempted to mount further attacks in the closing stages of the match, and Hudson claimed their third try wide on the left after a good run from winger Charlie Gingell.

Thatcham scored the last try of the game, Leadley confidently ignoring a massive overlap to score a fine individual try, which he converted as well.

Abbey: D Love, S Warwick, A Ross, T Brain (J Hudson, 53 mins), C Gingell, D Anfield, S Drake, O Charlton, J Holden, L Daniels (J Mollett, 38 mins), C Shaw, S Hallett, M Beckley (D Garhard, 40 mins), F Mutepfa, S Willis (M Beckley, 72 mins).

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