Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Abbey maintain their 100 per cent record with derby win

ABBEY made it three Southern Counties North wins on the spin at Marlow on Saturday.

ABBEY made it three Southern Counties North wins on the spin at Marlow on Saturday.

The match brought up personal milestones with prop Jesse Goode making his first team league debut at loosehead and centre Luke Burns reaching a century of appearances in the Abbey hoops.

Abbey got off to a bright start as clever territorial kicking by fly-half Callum Wylie was capitalised on by the ever-present winger Gavin Dampies, forcing Marlow into touch deep in their own half. Moments later the home side were penalised for dangerous play and fullback Tom Waterhouse kicked the first points of the day, nudging Abbey into the lead.

With both sides involved in an early exchange of penalties the territorial kicking duties were resumed by Steven Drake following an early shoulder injury to Wylie. After one penalty failed to find touch, the ball found the hands of the Marlow fullback who skipped through numerous tackles during a strong run up the pitch, eventually culminating in a try beneath the posts. A simple conversion followed and the tables were turned.

Good pressure from the ensuing restart immediately forced another Marlow error in their half. However, an unusually panicked Abbey scrum was followed by erratic handling between the backs, with the Marlow winger taking his chances at an interception and subsequently running 60 metres to score. A nod must be given to Dylan Baptista’s chase and valiant effort to tap tackle him, albeit in vain. The second quarter again saw a flurry of penalties awarded against Marlow with the back three using them to great advantage through clever kicking and chasing once again through Waterhouse and Dampies.

Drake also sent some good balls up, testing the Marlow defence which paid off when Marlow infringed at the scrum in front of the posts. Waterhouse quickly took the points for his side.

Following the restart, the Abbey forward pack started to create some solid phases of play with strong runs from locks Sam Hallett and Warren Milne. Marlow bit back, taking the points after Abbey were penalised at the ruck.

Skipper Michael Beckly was the next Abbey casualty after being tackled without the ball, and Ed House came off the bench to deliver yet another promising performance. Waterhouse slotted another two penalties before the break, following a fine box-kicking display by scrum-half Will Bevan which led to Marlow infringements around the contact area. The half-time score was 15-12 to the home side, courtesy of Waterhouse’s reliable boot, with everything to play for in the second half.

Abbey started the second half brightly with promising moves from both the forwards and backs, linked by the skilful flanker Matt Gingell and ever-present Bevan. The visitors made good ground up the pitch, but a failure to find touch from kicks proved costly when Marlow took advantage of a skewed Abbey defence and ran in a third try, which was not converted.

Abbey responded with a penalty struck by Waterhouse after a spell of outstanding tackling from centre Arron Ross. Their performance was further energised after Dampies streaked after a clever chip by Bevan, forcing Marlow to dribble the ball into touch. The intensity now turned up another notch and a good phase of passing was followed by a spectacular grubber from Waterhouse which was pounced on by Dampies as he crossed under the posts. Waterhouse converted, and Abbey were ahead once again.

Their spirits lifted, Abbey started to enjoy what was their best passages of play. Defence became louder and more organised, forcing more Marlow errors, and the team was lifted by the return of their skipper Beckly to the field of play, substituting on for Gingell.

The back three came into their own, releasing Baptista on a strong run where he was unluckily held up on the line. The ensuing scrum saw yet another dip in Marlow discipline, and Waterhouse extended his team’s lead with another kick at the posts.

By this point the Abbey bench had been emptied and props Tim Brain and Paul Emery were causing a number of problems for their tiring opposition. A sold platform from the forwards allowed the backs to release Dampies yet again, who showcased outstanding individual pace and skill to step three Marlow players following exemplary unselfish play by Burns, and crossing the whitewash in the corner. Waterhouse’s conversion attempt drifted wide, but the game was won.

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