Warwick and Ross score trebles as undefeated Abbey secure title
ABBEY clinched the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Premier Championship title along with promotion in a
ABBEY clinched the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Premier Championship title along with promotion in a high scoring, but scrappy game, with Arron Ross and Steve Warwick both grabbing hat–tricks of tries.
Abbey had made four changes going into the game: Tom Waterhouse moved from fullback to fly half, Mark Toland hooked, and Matt Gingell played open side flanker.
Tim Brain propped, having decided to move up front from centre and having proved his value there in the second team. Gingell played an all action game and received the man–of–the–match award which he dedicated to his newborn daughter Abigail Rose.
From the kick–off Abbey attacked, Sam Hallett charging through to feed Ollie Charlton, who pushed the ball to winger Karl Strugar with the line at his mercy, but the pass was adjudged to have gone forward.
With the referee disallowing two tries and consistently finding fault with Abbey’s play, the sting went out of the visitors’ attacks. Tim Brain, touching down after a charge down, and Dan Pawlett going over from a short drive were unlucky to be denied their scores.
To make matters worse the hosts had taken the lead in the ninth minute when a narrow side attack following a scrum pierced the defence and number eight Joe Morrell ran in beneath the posts for an easy conversion from centre Jamie Caswell.
The home side’s pack held its own and competed with Abbey’s usual line–out superiority. Abbey had to wait 18 minutes for points, Arron Ross finding a gap to cross the whitewash, Waterhouse adding the extra points to equal the scores.
Two further tries were added before the break. Good line–out work from Abbey’s forwards saw the ball moved to winger Warwick, who did well to get through a crowded defence to score. Waterhouse added the extras then went on to take his own try following good passing between forwards and backs to give the half–time score of 19–7 to the visitors. Abbey had contained the threat from the hosts’ heavy forwards and negated their fast running wingers and elusive number 10.
The question for the second half was whether Chipping Norton’s fitness could sustain the effort and keep Abbey at bay. The answer came within five minutes. A long pass out from Waterhouse to Ross put him over for his second try and Abbey were in the driving seat.
Dylan Baptista kept up the momentum by being inches away from the line. Captain Sam Hallett bludgeoned the home forwards, Mike Beckly tidied ball at the base of the scrum and was denied a score when adjudged to have infringed in the effort. Flanker Matt Gingell was fast to compete for possession whilst mobile prop Ollie Charlton was unfortunate not to score from his penetrating runs.
Head coach Russell Bolton rang the changes just before the hour, Joe Hallett came to replace Shaw, Adam Postlethwaite came on to prop his last game for the season as he prepares for university while Fungai came into the front row.
Play remained scrappy through untidy play whilst frustration built up at decisions that were not understood.
Through the irritation, Abbey became more dominant as Ross and Warwick completed their hat–trick of tries and Waterhouse added three second half conversions.
When the final whistle came Abbey’s celebrations were strangely muted reflecting a sense of satisfaction at their achievement of securing promotion and being undefeated with one game remaining.