Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Abbey brush aside Swindon College Old Boys as they return to top of table

TWO tries in the last two minutes gave Abbey a winning bonus point to jump back

TWO tries in the last two minutes gave Abbey a winning bonus point to jump back to the top of the Southern Counties North division.

With near full availability, head coach Fungai opted for Knights in the second row and Chris Shaw as blindside flanker. In the backs Steve Drake took the outside half’s berth and Arron Ross was recalled to the bench.

Constant wind and rain made conditions slippery for both feet and hands so free flowing rugby was at a premium, at times producing untidy rugby.

Throughout the game Abbey took the lions’ share of possession and established territorial domination throughout. Swindon were unable to create a single scoring attempt and rarely ventured into Abbey’s 22 and when they did it was by kicking which fullback Dampies dealt with easily.

As Abbey had the major part of possession, they committed the greater number of spills and knock-ons. This gave Swindon opportunities in the scrum, their best area of play around the fringes where their pack sniped away, but Abbey’s back row of Shaw, House and Beckly were in fine form to nullify the threats.

Abbey started with the advantage of a strong wind forcing Swindon to concede three penalties within nine minutes resulting in referee Alex Biggs warning the visitors that any more deliberate infringements would result in yellow cards.

Play became more fluid as a result and soon Abbey’s back division showed their ability; with 17 minutes on the clock scrum half Will Bevan spotted a gap in the defence to go over for the first try. The second came 10 minutes later when good distribution from Luke Burns set the backs running and inter passing but it was number eight Mike Beckly’s support that got the touchdown.

The blustery wind had blown aside Tom Waterhouse’s kicks for goal, but he had notched up two penalties to give the turn round score of 16-0.

The break was the time to bring on remaining two replacements Tim Brain for prop Jesse Goode and Warren Milne for Knights in the second row, Luke Burns having been replaced by Arron Ross just minutes before the break.

Early after the restart, winger Dylan Baptista was unlucky to be stopped by Swindon defence a metre out, but now against the wind and with the ground underfoot worsening, scoring chances for Abbey were reduced. Abbey’s pack kept working hard with Tim Brain and Sam Hallett pushing forward, Hallett’s ability to make ground was crucial.

The third try came just past the hour after skilful interpassing in the backs, scrum half Bevan put away Steve Drake for the try which Waterhouse converted. By now the Rosehill faithful were fretting that the bonus point from a fourth try would never come. Fate seemed against that especially when winger Charlie Gingell touched down only to be pulled back for the forward pass that had appeared to have put him away.

With two minutes to go the game lit up with two breaks from Waterhouse who grabbed the fourth try, with all the defence buying his dummy passes, and then immediately afterwards he choose to make the pass with options all around him, but flanker Ed House backing up play, was the one go over; Waterhouse added the extras for the final flourish.

Abbey: Goode (Brain, 40 mins), Toland, Long, Knights (Milne, 40 mins), Hallett, Shaw, House, Beckly, Bevan, Drake, Baptista, Burns (Ross, 34 mins), Waterhouse, Gingell, Dampies.

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