Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Wonderful Woodward bags hat-trick of tries for Abbey

ABBEY overcame a sticky surface at Rosehill to record another bonus point victory in Southern Counties North.

ABBEY overcame a sticky surface at Rosehill to record another bonus point victory in Southern Counties North.

Visitors Thatcham competed well during the first half and led after half an hour, but Abbey upped their game when it mattered and always looked the likelier winners. It was a happy afternoon for home number eight Will Woodward who celebrated his return from Henley with a hat-trick of tries.

Abbey dominated the early stages of the game, with the forwards driving well and dominating in the scrums and took the lead after 10 minutes when centre Tom Waterhouse kicked a penalty after Thatcham were caught offside.

Abbey continued to attack, and after a strong drive from second row Sam Hallett, Toland and Woodward were both stopped just short of the line. The home side were then awarded a penalty in the left corner, and after they had opted to take a scrum, Woodward picked up and dived over for the opening try. Waterhouse sent his conversion attempt wide. Thatcham started to look more positive in attack and winger Charlie Gingell did well to stop skipper Matt Langdon close to the try line. Hallett stole a Thatcham line out throw, but soon after this the visitors were awarded a penalty and fullback Ollie Black landed a straightforward kick from 25 metres.

For a while after this Abbey’s game went to pieces. Attacks were started from deep in the home half, but they rarely progressed far as mistakes crept into the hosts’ play.

Thatcham scored the next try when the ball was moved to the left in the home 22 and winger Simon Niven crossed the line. He ran round behind the posts, leaving Black with the simple task of adding the conversion to put Thatcham into the lead.

Abbey went back on the attack and after Waterhouse had missed a 30 metre penalty strong running from Woodward almost led to a try. Dampies ran from deep and Hallett and skipper Mike Beckly made good ground in the Thatcham half. Ash Taylor, the visitors’ hooker, was shown the yellow card, and soon after this Abbey scored again. A line-out drive was stopped just short of the line, after which Waterhouse, Gingell and Woodward all handled before Drake sent a crosskick to the right corner where Baptista was on hand to catch the ball and touch down to restore Abbey’s lead. Waterhouse missed the difficult conversion.

There was still time for one more attack in the first half, and after Shaw had again stolen a Thatcham line-out, Drake and Love made good ground. The result was another penalty for Abbey, but Waterhouse missed with the final kick of the half.

Abbey looked far more focused at the start of the second half and Shaw set up a drive in the Thatcham 22. The home side lost the ball, but the forwards won the subsequent scrum against the head and Woodward burst clear 15 metres out to score. Waterhouse could not convert, but Abbey now led 18-10.

Hallett won the restart kick, and Shaw, Waterhouse and replacement Arron Ross took play back into the Thatcham 22. Drake put in a good run and kept the ball alive when he was tackled before Woodward received again and ran over under the posts for his hat-trick try. This gave Abbey their bonus point and Waterhouse added the simple conversion.

With 50 minutes of the game gone, Abbey scored their fifth try, following more good work from Shaw and Gingell. The home side won another scrum against the head and Waterhouse’s clever kick to the right corner created a try for Ross. Again the conversion went wide but Abbey were now comfortably in the lead.

Thatcham mounted a brief revival, with scrum half Dan Tingle directing operations well, but his opposite number Will Bevan relieved the pressure with a clearance kick. Woodward made a further strong run, but the next Abbey try was not of their own making. Thatcham tried to run the ball close to their posts and after the ball was knocked on Drake had the simple task of collecting possession and running in under the sticks. Waterhouse converted to make the score 37-10.

Abbey continued to dominate as Hallett and replacement Knights both won good line-out ball, and after another drive from Shaw, Drake and Waterhouse moved the ball to the left where Dampies ran in under the posts and Waterhouse again converted.

Abbey: G Dampies, D Baptista, T Waterhouse, D Love (A Ross, 40 mins), C Gingell (D Love, 55 mins), S Drake, W Bevan, O Charlton, M Toland, F Long, C Shaw, S Hallett, M Beckly (E House, 60 mins), E House (J Knights, 40 mins), W Woodward. Replacement not used: F Mutepfa.

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