Saturday, 20 August 2022

Late kick secures Abbey final spot

ABBEY edged into the finals of the Southern Region Intermediate Cup with a late penalty goal from Callum

ABBEY edged into the finals of the Southern Region Intermediate Cup with a late penalty goal from Callum Wylie.

The kick set up a nail-biting finale. From the restart kick, Abbey knocked on which resulted in a scrum to Bicester where their number eight picked up and was engulfed by a maul. The referee penalised Abbey for coming in from the side and awarded Bicester a penalty from 30 metres out but the kick was off target.

Jeremy Knights was Abbey’s captain for the day, and led the team well while Matt Eldridge was another who shone as he put in a man-of-the-match performance.

The rain drizzled throughout, making the surface slippery and ball handling difficult, but both sides provided lively fare for the large crowd.

Abbey had the first points on the board, a penalty from Callum Wylie. Bicester responded and in a drive for the line, the ball fell to ground and was hacked into the try zone only for them to lose the short chase for the touchdown.

Abbey responded as fullback Jules Greenaway fielded a failed kick to touch to set up a counterattack involving Ross. When the ball went to ground it was Abbey’s turn to kick ahead where Greenaway finished the move with a try which Wylie converted to put his side 10-0 up.

Being ahead after 20 minutes Abbey appeared to be able to contain the Bicester threat, yet manage to be nimble enough in the back to threaten to steal a try or two. However, it all changed when Bicester took a tap penalty and looked to move the ball wide. Abbey’s winger Steve Warwick made an interception and cleared his lines – only to be spoken to sternly by the referee for not having retreated 10 metres from the penalty, and then sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.

It was within those 10 minutes that the extra man showed. First Bicester’s pack had several pushes from short yardage for the line, number five Neil Lake eventually succeeding. Then young winger George Upton found space on the wing to touch down, with fullback Dan Spencer taking the extras, setting up a half-time lead to the visitors 12-10.

The second half was close with both sides taking turns to pressurise but although Abbey’s replacements, especially Sam Hallett, brought Abbey to a strong finish it seemed that the two point gap was to stay.

That is until the final dramatic minute when either side could have taken victory, but Wylie’s calm kick for goal made the difference.

The other semi-final saw Marlow go down at home to North Dorset 24-9, to set up a Southern Region final on February 6 in Gillingham, Dorset where the Dorset club will have home advantage.

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