Report by Dave Husbands
An outstanding solo try from flanker Matt Mills, and outstanding defence from the whole team resulted in a well deserved win for Abbey Colts keeping them up in second place in the league.
After early pressure Abbey won a penalty 40 metres out which Joe Murphy slotted just wide but five minutes later more Abbey pressure and great clearing out from the front row released Matt Mills 30 metres from the try line with nothing obvious on – 10 seconds later he was being congratulated by the rest of the team as the Oxford players looked at each other wondering how he had danced round at least six or seven of them to score in the corner.
Oxford attacked straight from the kick off driving hard at the home team’s try line and just as it looked like they must score Matt Mills popped up again turning the ball over and allowing Gaz Briggs, once again showing his versatility and playing at number 10, to relieve the pressure.
The teams crashed into each other with bone shuddering hits as the play settled in midfield and the two packs looked to batter the other into submission – Abbey had the edge at the lineout but Oxford were dominating the scrum. And it was from a lineout steal that Zebbie Hodges broke the line and went half the length of the field with the outstanding Ben Davis in support – Zebbie off load looked perfect but an Oxford finger tip just took it out of Bens hands with the try line beaconing.
New centre Ally was everywhere in attack and defence as he played his first game for a year but looked like he had never been away – Abbey were just starting to look like they were getting on top when they conceded a penalty in front of the posts and the Oxford fly half scored confidently – 5 – 3 after 30 minutes of this intriguing game.
Abbey then played out the remainder of the first half in the opposition half and more forward pressure forced an penalty which Joe slotted with the last play of the half – 8 – 3 at half time and not many of the healthy watching crowd would have bet on there being no more scores in the second half!
Both teams now where taking on water at every opportunity as the unseasonably warm weather made for tough conditions in such a hard fought game, but neither sides slowed down all afternoon.
In the second half we saw a real battle of attrition – I lost track of the tackles and constant turnovers for both sides – Ollie Lee was a constant thorn in Oxford’s side before being replaced by Josh Norris, and Ben Davis looked impassable at fullback, but Gaz and Joe kept a cool heads and made sure Abbey were playing in the right areas of the pitch constantly forcing Oxford to attack from deep. Additionally the front row had gained a measure of control in the scrum so despite the closeness of the score, where the home team were of course only ever a breakaway try away from going behind, Abbey always felt on top. As the referee called last play Abbey were defending their 22 and driving into tackles like runaway juggernauts – eventually Oxford lost their nerve and someone kicked an aimless punt straight to Ben Davis who put the ball out and the referee bought matters to a conclusion.
Another great effort – the score may not make this game sound like a classic, especially after last weeks free scoring, but this was a really high class game between two good sides.
After the game Andy celebrated his 50th birthday by running around the pitch in a mankini - not a pretty sight!
Captain Jack awarded MOTM in the backs to Gaz for another outstanding effort covering at fly half and in the forwards MOTM went to Ollie Lee who stood out amongst an outstanding forward effort.