Thursday, 03 December 2020

Abbey out of sorts as Aylesbury ease to comfortable win

ABBEY struggled to overcome a powerful Aylesbury pack at Ostler’s Field, conceding five tries despite putting up a gallant rearguard

ABBEY struggled to overcome a powerful Aylesbury pack at Ostler’s Field, conceding five tries despite putting up a gallant rearguard action for much of the second half, writes Mark Hoskins.

The visitors rarely looked like registering any points themselves and didn’t even have the opportunity of a kick at goal, but some committed tackling, especially by centre Tim Brain, at least ensured that the defeat was not as heavy as it might have been.

The writing was on the wall for Abbey in the very first minute, when Aylesbury took control of the opening scrum and gained 15 metres with an organised and measured push. A penalty was conceded, and James Woodfall, who started at centre but played much of the second half in the pack, landed the first points of the game.

Abbey scrum half Steve Drake did his best to get the line moving early on, but after the visitors lost a line-out they were forced to defend against a series of home attacks. Winger Charlie Gingell did well to stop Aylesbury scrum half Adam Moore, Brain produced the first of many fine tackles to stop Woodfall, and then fullback George Pawlett brought off a try-saving tackle on centre Miles Durose.

The first try came in the 15th minute when a break from Aylesbury skipper Gary Horne was finished off by Woodfall, who then added a simple conversion.

Abbey made matters worse for themselves by contriving to lose possession in a promising position inside the home 22. The resultant counterattack saw Durose provide flanker Jordan Stanmore with a clear run in under the posts. Woodfall again converted and Aylesbury led 17-0.

The third home try came just into the second quarter of the game when some weak tackling allowed Horne to break clear and cross close to the posts after a long run. Woodfall added another conversion to his tally.

Abbey dug deep and kept their line intact for the rest of the half. Number eight Mike Beckley did well to rescue the ball from a retreating scrum, and although the Abbey forwards were pushed off their own ball at the next set piece, Aylesbury were unable to capitalise.

Skipper Sam Hallett did well to steal a home throw at the next line-out and a run from Pawlett took play into Aylesbury territory. Drake, who had just received treatment for a cut head, made a break from a scrum. He linked well with Hallett, but the move broke down short of the home line. Aylesbury pressed for another score at the end of the half, opting to scrummage when awarded a series of penalties, but Abbey held out.

Jeremy Knights and Toby Chapman replaced Chris Shaw and Jake Mollett in the visitors’ pack at the start of the second half, with John Holden already having come on for hooker Mark Toland.

Abbey started the half well, with Matt Eldridge taking the ball close to the home line in the right corner, but after a series of drives a penalty was conceded. Aylesbury claimed their bonus point try in the 48th minute when Horne again ran in from a distance. This time Woodfall could not convert.

Winger Steve Warwick briefly raised Abbey’s hopes with a good run, but he was soon called on to defend, producing a good tackle to stop home full back Andy Blacklock. Aylesbury then laid siege to the visitors’ line. After several forward surges the ball was moved to the backs, and outside half Johnny Burgess scored a good try under the posts, Woodfall adding the extras.

There were still 15 minutes of play remaining but Aylesbury were unable to score again. The final pass went astray on occasions but Abbey refused to buckle and defended stoutly until the end.

Not long before the final whistle Brain made the tackle of the match, flattening Blacklock with a great hit. Yellow cards for Horne and Abbey prop Ollie Charlton punctuated the dying moments of a flat final quarter.

Abbey: G Pawlett, S Warwick, A Ross, T Brain, C Gingell, D Love, S Drake, O Charlton, M Toland (J Holden, 32 mins), J Mollett (T Chapman, 40 mins), C Shaw (J Knights, 40 mins), S Hallett, F Mutepfa (J Mollett, 78 mins), M Eldridge, M Beckley.

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