TOM WATERHOUSE marked his 200th appearance by kicking 16 points in a man-of-the-match performance that keeps Abbey five
TOM WATERHOUSE marked his 200th appearance by kicking 16 points in a man-of-the-match performance that keeps Abbey five points clear at the top of Southern Counties North.
The other points came with tries from Dylan Baptista and Ollie Charlton providing bright moments in a drab game.
It was a promising start from the home side who attacked the try line down the narrow side. A series of silly errors allowed Bletchley to keep their line intact, before a fifth penalty in succession allowed the visitors to find touch five metres short of Abbey’s line through the impressive boot of outside half Phil Harman.
From the line-out they took the ball, and drove prop Tom Hannell over for the try, putting Bletchley into the lead after just 10 minutes.
Play then got into a pattern that was broken far too rarely. Bletchley’s big pack were adept at keeping the ball, driving on, popping the ball up to a supporting player, and repeating the process, but with little reward. When the ball moved out it was only to number 10, kicker Harman rarely opting to move the ball wide.
Abbey did put their ball beyond number 10, but not much further as the centres probed for gaps, only to end up back amongst the forwards.
However there was enough movement from the home side to force two penalties for Waterhouse to edge Abbey into the lead. Then halfway through the half Baptista found that elusive gap to touch down beneath the posts, Waterhouse taking the extra two points.
With Abbey’s pack containing their opponents’ drives, but unable to create a threat, the first half score was static until the last five minutes when Bletchley’s Harman took the three points offered when Abbey held on to the ball following a tackle which Harman then followed up with a drop goal 30 metres out when his forwards gave clean ball from a static platform.
Abbey’s pack had worked hard against a heavier and well drilled pack, debutant Esteban being particularly busy, and that was their task for the afternoon.
The second half’s play stayed in a rut, Bletchley endlessly battering away, whilst Abbey rarely managed to move the ball out wide to Bryn Savill or Gavin Dampies who shone on those brief moments. Hooker Mark Toland had a good afternoon taking one against the head, stealing line-out ball and getting across the gain line when in possession.
Sam Hallett’s ability to make ground paid dividends at last when he burst through the entire Bletchley pack to feed to prop Ollie Charlton, the fastest prop in the league, who burnt the grass for the 20 metre dash to touch down. Waterhouse added the extras then two more penalties to round off the scoring.