Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Abbey have no answer as they lose out in regional intermediate cup final

HOSTS North Dorset came out on top in the Southern Counties Region Intermediate Cup final last Saturday in

HOSTS North Dorset came out on top in the Southern Counties Region Intermediate Cup final last Saturday in a match played in dismal conditions.

A much-changed starting Abbey XV took to the field skippered by Knights in a match where a win for either side meant a step closer to a final to be played at Twickenham. Head coach Fungai Mutepfa viewed the encounter as an opportunity to test much of the second team at a higher level.

Upon arrival, the team was greeted by a ferocious wind and sideways driving rain and it was North Dorset who adapted to the conditions faster than Abbey.

Although the initial North Dorset kick-off was carried out to touch by the wind, they were quick to assert their dominance in the resulting scrum, winning it against the head and driving the Abbey pack backwards.

This began the start of Abbey’s tireless defending, which they maintained for much of the first half. North Dorset utilised their large forwards well, playing tightly and forcing Jim Dye, Carlos Esteban and Chris Shaw to make some impressive tackles to keep them at bay.

Skipper Knights led from the front, his workrate around the breakdown as impressive as ever, but North Dorset’s starting energy was rewarded with an early try after just five minutes.

The wind was a constant demon for both sides throughout the afternoon, carrying North Dorset’s conversion attempt wide and Abbey’s following restart into touch.

Abbey had the chance to attack after good linespeed off the scrum from the backs forced a first North Dorset handling error, and halfback Kieran Machin made good use of the wind with a fine box kick, the resulting chase by Kaspar Strugar and Bryn Savill forcing a second knock on. Abbey were now in North Dorset’s half for the first time, although the home pack were still proving too physical up front to allow Abbey to win their own scrum. North Dorset started to edge their way up the pitch once more and good work by prop Adam Postlethwaite on the floor, coupled with further important tackles by Adam Penney, Ollie Charlton and Knights denied them the chance to score through phase play.

Using their weight advantage, North Dorset formed a 13-man driving maul which moved too quickly for a tiring Abbey to contend with, and they crossed the barely-visible whitewash for the second time to make it 10-0.

The second half saw a much-improved Abbey scrum as replacement prop Liam Rolland took the field, and this spurred on the rest of the team to start playing the phases as best the conditions allowed. North Dorset were now using the wind to aid their territorial kicking, yet only into the safe hands of winger Charlie Gingell, who returned every one with pace and purpose.

Abbey now looked the brighter team as Mutepfa started to empty the bench, with strong ball carrying from Toby Chapman and Michael Beckly. Knights stole some crucial line out ball, but the North Dorset defence was just as good as their controlled attack, and they denied Abbey from scoring.

North Dorset had the last say of the afternoon as their second-row skipped through several Abbey tackles to score under the posts, with their fly-half converting.

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