HAT-TRICK hero Joe Murphy kept Abbey’s hopes of victory alive to the final whistle, but in the end it was
HAT-TRICK hero Joe Murphy kept Abbey’s hopes of victory alive to the final whistle, but in the end it was stalemate - four tries each.
This is a match that Abbey would have targeted to win, a draw doing nothing to get them out of the relegation zone.
For the last home fixture of 2013 Abbey called upon returning university students, Murphy at outside half, George Pawlett in the centre, Will Paige at scrum half and Jack Husbands on the bench backing up the pack.
Murphy was the star all round player and showed how much Abbey miss his contribution when he’s away.
With the scores level and 10 minutes to go Abbey had winning chances. Pawlett, capping a fine game, made a break from the halfway line, battled through two defenders to put Steve Warwick over the whitewash, but the final pass had gone forward, and with Wallingford’s defence overstretched and Warwick clear, the final pass went astray.
Seven minutes in and Wallingford were down to 14 men, a prop sin binned for roughing up Murphy after the ball had moved away. Abbey failed to take advantage of the extra man despite some threatening attacks.
Wallingford took the first try, prop Anthony Marris taking short ball at speed to break the defence. Strong running from captain Sam Hallett saw Abbey in Wallingford’s red zone and Murphy went over in the corner for his first try to equal the scores.
Wallingford responded within five minutes after Mark Toland had been yellow carded for persistent infringement. A double dummy from Wallingford’s centres saw the Abbey defence take the wrong man giving Ralph Smith a clear run to score with scrum half Phil Davies making the extra points having missed first time round.
Abbey’s response was immediate. They kicked an attacking penalty to touch, took the line-out, and an impressive drive saw flanker Fungai touch down, but with the conversion blown off course Wallingford had a two-point lead at the turnaround.
The second half was one of contrasting styles trying to establish dominance, Wallingford’s Carl Tappin bursting through the centre to extend their lead, but Murphy matched that with a solo effort, then adding the two points, to equal the scores.
The gusting wind did not help Abbey’s cause with two kicks at goal being blown off course. Wallingford again went in front from strong running down the middle, the try going beneath the posts with the easy extra two points.
It was Murphy who pegged the scores equal with another try plus the extras, lifting his side to a strong finish as they strove for the win, which eluded them.