Saturday, 20 August 2022

Dampies treble helps Abbey extend lead at top of the table

ABBEY won their game in hand in Southern Counties North, scoring nine tries at Thatcham to

ABBEY won their game in hand in Southern Counties North, scoring nine tries at Thatcham to extend their lead at the top of the table.

The visitors started the game confidently. Outside half Steve Drake sent a good kick into the Thatcham half, and after centre Tom Burns stopped his opposite number Marty Butler, a good run from Dylan Baptista took play into the home 22. The winger was the victim of a high tackle, but after advantage was played the ball was moved to the left and Burns sent Gavin Dampies on his way to the line. The fullback ran round to touch down behind the posts, and skipper Tom Waterhouse converted to put Abbey 7-0 ahead after just three minutes.

Good handling from flanker Chris Shaw and a promising run from prop Luke Daniels kept the momentum going for Abbey and another shrewd kick from Drake kept play in the Thatcham half. Hooker Ollie Charlton dummied well during a clever run, and prop Tom Brain carried on the attack. Then Drake moved the ball to Waterhouse who sent winger Arron Ross over in the right corner for the second try of the game in the seventh minute. Waterhouse made a clever attempt to convert from a difficult angle against the wind and his kick only just curled wide.

Warren Milne, who formed a good second row partnership with Knights, caught Thatcham’s restart kick and the Abbey forwards mauled for 20 metres. When the first scrum of the match was awarded, scrum half Will Bevan made further ground. Burns sent a crosskick towards the right corner where Waterhouse nearly broke clear 15 metres from the try line. A penalty allowed Thatcham to clear the ball upfield, but both flanker Matt Gingell and impressive number eight Danny Pawlett tapped the ball back at home line-outs, while Baptista did well to tackle winger Simon Niven.

Thatcham gradually came more into the game with fullback Liam Rowland looking dangerous and again it was Baptista who came to the rescue with a good tackle on the number 15.

Abbey lost Drake to injury at the start of the second quarter, necessitating a reorganisation of the back division. Charlie Gingell came on as a winger with Ross moving to the centre, while Waterhouse went to outside half. A huge kick from Waterhouse sent Abbey back into the Thatcham half, but after Charlie Gingell was unable to gather an awkward bouncing ball the home side counter-attacked and eventually flanker Louis Kanaar-Brown crossed for a try to the right of the posts after 25 minutes. Scrum half Dan Tingle was unable to convert.

Five minutes later Abbey scored their third try when Bevan followed up his own kick ahead and then did well to hold off a number of pursuing home backs to cross close to the posts. Waterhouse converted to make the score 19-5.

A fine bout of handling followed involving Dampies, Burns and Brain, after which Waterhouse sent an Abbey penalty to the left corner set up an attacking line-out. The ball was won and Bevan and Burns both handled before Dampies raced over on the right for Abbey’s bonus point try. Waterhouse converted and Abbey led 26-5 when the half-time whistle sounded.

Abbey went further ahead five minutes into the second half when a kick ahead from Waterhouse saw Dampies chase the ball over the line and touch down for a well-deserved hat-trick. Waterhouse could not convert, but Abbey scored a sixth try soon afterwards when a pass from Bevan released Pawlett in space. The number eight handed on to Charlton and the hooker raced in under the sticks, Waterhouse this time adding the conversion.

A 60 metre dash from Dampies was halted in the left corner but Abbey scored their seventh try after 52 minutes when Waterhouse fed Baptista who scored wide on the left after a mazy run. The wind held up Waterhouse’s conversion attempt, but Abbey were comfortably home and dry at 43-5.

Pawlett, Bevan and Brain all made good runs during the next 10 minutes and it was the latter who claimed the eighth try after Bevan and Waterhouse sent him on his way to the left corner. He still had a bit of work to do and did well to beat off the defence to score. Again the wind played havoc with Waterhouse’s attempted conversion.

Thatcham came back into the game, scoring three tries in the next 12 minutes. First Tingle crossed wide on the left after Dampies had done well to halt Rowland. Abbey’s fullback was injured in the process and had to come off. This led to further reorganisation of Abbey’s backs with Charlton coming out of the pack to play on the wing and Burns switching to fullback.

Tingle was unable to convert his own try, but he succeeded with a quickly taken drop-kicked conversion after a good break from outside half Jamie Evans created a try under the posts for replacement Ben Willis. Then, after an impressive drive from home prop Lewis Davies, Thatcham scored their bonus point try. A lineout drive in the left corner saw second row Tim Apperley dive over, Tingle adding the extras with a fine conversion kick.

Abbey had the last word in an action-packed encounter when Baptista ran in a brilliant injury time try after a fifty metre burst. The final action of the game was an elements-defying touchline conversion by Waterhouse.

Abbey: G Dampies (L Daniels, 66 mins), D Baptista, T Waterhouse, T Burns, A Ross, S Drake (C Gingell, 22 mins), W Bevan, T Brain (F Mutepfa, 77 mins), O Charlton, L Daniels (A Postlethwaite, 52 mins), W Milne, J Knights, C Shaw, M Gingell, D Pawlett.

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