Report by Dave Husbands
‘The breakfast of champions is not cereal, it's the opposition.’
So Abbey Colts were back in England and more or less in one piece to face a tough friendly against a very good Alton team.
Alton certainly looked more awake at the start of the game and only a great covering tackle from full back Ben Davis, something we have come to take for granted such is Ben’s consistency, prevented an early Alton try – who knows how the game would have panned out had he allowed the score.
But having seen off the danger Abbey set up several phases of attacking play with Luke McNickle and Ollie standing out, setting up a great attacking position for our forwards and Jack threw his usual dodgy dummy, but it fooled the Alton defence long enough for him to dive over for the home team’s first try, converted by Joe – 7 – 0.
Josh Norris, fully recovered from the knock he got in France, was having a storming first half, smashing into the tackle when Aton had the ball, and making several impressive runs with the ball., and from one such attack he crashed over in the corner after Abbey had won a series of penalties, again excellent conversion from Joe Murphy – 14 – 0.
And just a few minutes later Abbey were scoring again after an outstanding steal at the lineout from Forbes, who dominated the all day with his second row colleagues Ollie Gorman and Callum, and Alton were forced to concede a penalty in front of their posts and Joe again slotted the points – 17 – 0.
Alton now came back strongly after blunt words from their captain, and they forced a series of penalties and only an unlucky knock on saved Abbey from conceding an almost certain try.
And moments later Alton were nearly in again but this time a stunning covering tackle by Joe Murphy drove the Alton winger into touch. Unfortunately Joe was injured in the process but Abbey were lucky to have Gaz available to slot in at number 10, and not second row where he was expecting to come on!
The ref was now loosing patience with both teams slowing the ball down at the breakdown and gave a very clear warning to both captains that he’d had enough, unfortunately a few minutes later Manny was tackled in the midfield and was adjudged to have held on a moment too long and took a yellow card for the team – half time 17 – 0.
So the second half started with Alton having a man advantage and the home team were struggling to keep out the visitors, with Alton sensibly moving the ball quickly backwards and forwards across the pitch spreading the Abbey defence and with five minutes they had crossed the try line – 17 – 5.
Abbey then tightened up their defence and concentrated on holding onto the ball and playing in the oppositions half, and didn’t concede anymore points before Manny returned to the fray, and almost immediately Alton were down to 14 for 10 minutes and from the resulting penalty Jack just smashed over for his second of the game - 22 – 5.
Then Alton received a second yellow, and felt a little hard done by, but Abbey didn’t take their foot off the gas and after Matt Mills nearly went over in the corner after an attacking 5 metre lineout, just stopped a few inches out, he followed close behind Jack who was tackled a couple of metres short, and he popped the ball up for Millsy to score – great try 27 – 5.
Alton, now having their sin binned players returning to the pitch, where in no mood to lie down and marched straight up field to score an excellent team try- 27 – 12.
The last few minutes of the game saw Alton desperate to at least score again, but with more organised defence, with Chris Mansfield and George outstanding and a forth yellow card of the game for Matt Mills, Abbey saw the game out with no more scores – full time 27 – 5.
Really good entertaining game - thanks Gents.
In the forwards Jack had led from the front, Matt was everywhere and our whole front row were excellent but for great work in the lineout MOTM went to Forbes. In the backs there were even more players putting their hands up with Joe, Ben, Luke, Manny, George and Gaz all standing out but getting the nod for his usual high class game MOTM in the backs was Will Paige.
Another tough friendly next week then we are into more cup and league games.
COME ON ABBEY!