Another home and away double
Buckingham impress in attack .... and then in defence
Reading Abbey 7 v Buckingham 26
Buckingham achieved another bonus point win and remain hot on the heels of league leaders Beaconsfield after a hard fought win over Reading Abbey on Saturday. In contrast to Buckingham’s somewhat scrappy recent wins over Stow and Wallingford, this was an excellent performance against an Abbey side of much better quality than recent opposition.
Abbey are currently in mid table, but they have beaten Windsor and Thatcham and only lost by one point against Beaconsfield. They can be a very good side when at their best, and this was evidenced in this game.
It was a match of two very distinct halves with the away side’s attacking verve taking them into a 19-0 lead at half time, and then, in contrast, a second half fought out almost entirely in the Buckingham half of the pitch as Abbey raised their game and laid siege to the visitor’s goal line for long periods.
The visitors made a tidy and controlled start to the game with Max Nagy at fly half in place of the injured Kinman, finding the right spots kicking from hand. A fine Nagy kick ahead was well fielded by the chasing Jamie Lee, back in the centre again. The Buckingham scrum looked strong in the early stages, despite a few changes in personnel, including veteran utility man Stuart Tomkinson packing down in the second row.
The first points of the afternoon came 10 minutes into the game from a relieving kick out of defence by Abbey which was fielded in midfield by Nagy. The fly half was quickly into his stride, running into open space down the right hand side, ghosting past the Abbey chasers before finding the younger Coxon who had come across off his left hand wing to provide support, taking the pass and beating the last defenders to cross for a superb try. Nagy converted, 0 - 7
Buckingham then lost Joel Coxon with an ankle injury, Matt Hawker coming off the bench, but with 20 minutes gone, they were further ahead. This time Nagy finished off under the posts with a series of sidesteps after Craig Coxon had made a break from broken play. Tom Warren played his part here, feeding Coxon after keeping the ball in play. Nagy converted, 0 – 14
The vistor’s pack was going well in both scrum and line out with Matt London, playing in the back row, having a particularly strong game in the loose. With 25 minutes gone, Buckingham went further ahead with a contrasting score. This time the forwards drove a maul from a line out on the 22, with Tomkinson to the fore, before Will Cooper finished off the drive for the third try. This time Nagy’s conversion attempt hit the post, 0 –19
Abbey then came into the game and began putting some pressure on the visitors, who had to defend strongly in their half with Craig Dumbarton in particular putting in a good series of tackles, before a break out by Joe Chalmers relieved the pressure. A cross kick by Nagy was promising, but Lee was penalised challenging for the ball. At this point, Buckingham were back in the ascendancy and forcing Abbey to concede penalties, Two long distance attempts at the posts by Nagy just failed.
The visiting supporters felt that the first half had been as good at Buckingham had played all season, and felt the try bonus point would readily be achieved. They had however to wait a full 40 minutes !
The home side really upped their performance after the break and began to dominate possession, playing with a lot of continuity, retaining the ball through many phases of play. A lot of this pressure was inside the visitor’s 22 and Buckingham had to tackle their socks off to keep the hosts at bay. The defence was out of the top drawer and although infringements appeared to be minimal, the referee felt there had been too many team offsides and chose to send Phil Wright to the sin bin for ten minutes. Tomkinson, his 50 minute hard shift completed, was replaced by Joe Kayll.
Abbey pressure finally told after some 12 minutes, when their captain and no 8, Will Woodward scored from a scrum pushover, with the conversion succeeding, 7 – 19. The home side continued to dominate the game and a further Abbey score certainly seemed more likely than a Buckingham bonus point try.
Wright came back on from his enforced break, captain Matt Payne had to take a few minutes off recovering from a knock, obliging Tomkinson to get himself back into the fray.... and the defence held firm through another 20 minutes of Abbey pressure. An Abbey penalty kick to the corner was carelessly kicked beyond the corner flag to help relieve pressure. At this point in the second half the only time the visitors got out of their own half had been when young Coxon showed some promising soccer skills and hacked on down his wing.
As the game moved into the last five minutes, Abbey were on the attack once more until a Nagy long kick to touch relieved the pressure. The visitors finally won a bit of possession from this breakout and forced play into the Abbey 22 for the first time in the half. In the right hand corner, Buckingham drove a maul only for play to be stopped for a potential head injury to the big Abbey prop after he brought the maul down. The visitors kicked the penalty to the corner, won the line out, and in a repeat scenario of the away match at Reading earlier in the season, Wright was driven over by his pack to score a final play try and get the long awaited, but now unlikely fourth try ...Wright, very late in the afternoon, once more ! Nagy kicked a superb conversion and the referee signalled for full time, 7 – 26
All in all, a very enjoyable game, with both sides playing well in difficult conditions ... it was difficult to tell the mud covered sides apart by the end ... but on a pitch that held up remarkably well given the rain that had fallen. Abbey will feel they should have got something from the game given their second half possession and pressure, but Buckingham’s defence was outstanding and it was this dogged determination as much as the early attacking flair from the young fliers that brought home the 5 points. Performances like this will be needed in the away matches to come at Windsor, Beaconsfield and Thatcham !