Friday, 27 November 2020

Baptista bags brace as champs end campaign on winning note

CHAMPIONS Abbey finished the season in fine form to run in four tries in a comfortable

CHAMPIONS Abbey finished the season in fine form to run in four tries in a comfortable victory over Buckingham in a match that saw winger Dylan Baptista bag a brace.

Abbey came fast out of the blocks, stunning Buckingham with their incisive running, almost scoring within the opening minutes. The sting lessened when referee Aubrey Collins alted play to get treatment from Abbey physio for a back spasm.

Abbey’s backs were much sharper, the handling and running at speed was impressive, the ball whipped around the field with breadth and ambition, sometimes leading to mistakes holding back the try tally.

Jim Dye at outside half was sharp making the best of scrum half Drake’s quick pass; possession was well used in the centres, Luke Burns and Tom Waterhouse alternatively finding the gaps and giving the wide runners Ross, Baptista and Dampies a stage to show their skills.

Up front the pack was strong with hooker Mark Toland taking three against the head, Knights and Hallett shared line-out duties with aplomb. Will Woodward at number eight was a menace with his breaks with Mike Beckly and Joe Hallett, then Matt Gingell scrapping for the loose ball. Tim Brain and Frank Long despite working hard in set piece still found energy to make contributions in open play.

The hosts took the lead when Woodward started an attack from the base of the scrum, but when stopped the ball was recycled with speed giving Baptista the first of his tries. Five minutes later Sam Hallett created pressure, followed by more speed of hand and foot from the backs putting Baptista over for his second try. Now was the time to capitalise on the start, but Buckingham rallied and their big kicking number 10 Ed Kinman eventually managed to avoid kicking the ball to Abbey fullback Gavin Dampies to return with interest. A touch finding kick put them deep into Abbey territory, who were over-keen to run the ball out of defence, they knocked on to give Buckingham a scrum leading to lock Matt London touching down with kicker Kinman missing the conversion, his kick bouncing back from the posts.

With Buckingham now holding steady Abbey had to wait for the half hour before centre Luke Burns put down beneath the posts finishing off a move started by Woodward from the base of the scrum. Not just in attacking was Burns impressive, but he was the epitome of coolness under pressure and a worthy recipient of the man-of-the-match award. Despite the movement in the game, referee Collins found cause to penalise either side just once, which went against Abbey for offside, too far for Buckingham to go for the sticks. The absence of penalties meant Abbey kicker Tom Waterhouse had to be content with two lots of extras from the three on offer.

The turnaround score of 19-5 did not reflect Abbey’s better play, but although comfortably in control, they added just eight second half points. Waterhouse kicked three from a penalty, and Gavin Dampies, now at scrum half after Drake had gone off injured, nipped through a crowded maul to touch down, and to bag the bonus point with five minutes to go.

Buckingham had the satisfaction of the final try in the final minute from flanker Henry Sweeney converted by Kinman.

Abbey: Brain, Toland (Fungai, 80 mins), Long, Knights, S Hallett, Beckley, J Hallett, (M Gingell, 40 mins), Woodward, Drake (Ross, 69-80 mins), Dye, Baptista, Burns, Waterhouse, Ross (C Gingell, 40 mins), Dampies.

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