ABBEY took a massive step towards clinching the Southern Counties North title by defeating second-placed Aylesbury
ABBEY took a massive step towards clinching the Southern Counties North title by defeating second-placed Aylesbury in an enthralling game at Rosehill.
The home side scored five tries to the visitors’ three, and Abbey head the table by 15 points with four games remaining. They now require six more points to seal promotion.
A tricky crosswind tended to favour Aylesbury in the first half, and the visitors applied early pressure. Flanker Ed House and hooker Mark Toland both brought off important tackles as Aylesbury took play into the Abbey half.
Winger Dylan Baptista saved Abbey when he forced his opposite number James Serrano into touch and House stopped a threatening break from fullback Liam d’Almeida.
But it was Abbey who opened the scoring following a penalty. Dye’s kick found touch and, after Hallett had caught the ball from the line-out, Woodward broke to cross the line in the left corner for the opening try.
The score was 5-0 for less than a minute. Waterhouse caught the restart and sent a kick towards the left touchline. No Aylesbury player was in sight as the ball popped up nicely into the arms of Dampies and the fullback ran in from 40 metres to touch down under the posts. Waterhouse added the routine conversion.
The visitors then started to get on top. A series of scrums followed, while Long saw yellow and was binned for 10 minutes. Aylesbury then won yet another scrum and left centre Mike Durose put Dennis in for a try. But Abbey, still a man down, scored their third try courtesy of speedy winger Gingell to lead 17-5 at the break.
With Abbey still at 14 men Aylesbury were desperate to score early after the restart but the home side kept their line intact and were awarded a penalty and Waterhouse landed a good goal from close to the right touchline.
In the 54th minute, a clever pass from Waterhouse released Dampies on the right. The fullback dashed to the line from 15 metres out to score his side’s bonus point try, and Waterhouse’s conversion made the score 27-5.
Aylesbury got a lifeline when Sam Hallett saw yellow for obstructing Moore when he took a quick free kick. Aylesbury now kicked for the corner, and from the ensuing line-out drive Dodds crossed for a try, Woodfall adding an excellent conversion.
Steve Drake replaced Bevan at scrum half for the final minutes, while Serrano saw yellow for a high tackle on Baptista.
Abbey sealed the win with a brilliant try when Dampies sent Baptista sprinting on his way to the line.
In injury time Home held off Baptista over 40 metres to score a consolation try but Woodfall missed the conversion.
Abbey: G Dampies, D Baptista, T Waterhouse, L Burns, C Gingell, J Dye, W Bevan (S Drake 76 minutes), T Brain (F Long 62 minutes), M Toland (T Brain 67 minutes), F Long (L Daniels 32 minutes), C Shaw, S Hallett, M Beckly (J Hallett 51 minutes), E House, W Woodward.