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1st XV - Match centre

Beaconsfield
Reading Abbey
Sat 10 Mar 15:00 - South West Division - Southern Counties North Full time

Beaconsfield 37 Reading Abbey 6

Abbey were by no means disgraced in their game at Beaconsfield, despite losing 37-6 and conceding six tries.

Beaconsfield 37 Reading Abbey 6

Mark Hoskins

Abbey were by no means disgraced in their game at Beaconsfield, despite losing 37-6 and conceding six tries. The visitors were competitive throughout and they remained positive in their approach even when injuries to key players threatened to disrupt their rhythm. Ultimately, there were quite simply beaten by the better side.

Beaconsfield have a large, mobile pack, together with a pacey set of backs. Their forwards attempted to break through early in the game, but Abbey’s pack countered well, with second row Treacle Knights and flanker Ed House making important tackles to stop second row Sam Cartwright and No.8 Callum Wilkinson. The first scrum of the game looked solid, and after Abbey had won the ball, skipper Will Bevan kicked well clear of danger. Beaconsfield’s speedy left winger Idrusu Labri made a good break, but he was tackled into touch and Knights won the subsequent lineout. His second row partner Chris Shaw won further good ball at the next set piece, but Abbey were now pinned in their own 22. Full back Gavin Dampies sent what looked to be a good clearance kick along the left touchline, but the ball bounced infield and Wilkinson ran from close to the halfway line. Clever interpassing from the home forwards took play to Abbey’s line, and after flanker Ken Kavanagh made the initial thrust, prop Jack Hopkins plunged over on the right for an eighth minute try. Outside half Aled Lewis saw his attempted conversion drop short of the target.

The next Beaconsfield attack saw skipper Sean Morgan release Labri, but winger Matthew Seabourne managed to halt him short of the line. Shaw picked up well for Abbey and Bevan kicked clear, but when Beaconsfield booted the ball back into the visitors’ 22, Seabourne found himself isolated and did well to keep possession. Abbey were then awarded a penalty, and Dampies took a quick tap to winger Diego de Marcilla Bahlsen. Bevan supported well, as did hooker Ollie Charlton. No.8 Mike Beckly took the ball into the home 22, Dampies kicked ahead, and centre Charlie Shackleford followed up well, only to see the ball elude him as he chased it over the Beaconsfield line.
Centre Ben Mitchell began the next Abbey attack, running well into space before Bevan, de Marcilla Bahlsen and flanker George House took play to the left inside the Beaconsfield 22. Knights lost the ball in the tackle as he tried to charge through the middle, but Abbey kept up the pressure and were awarded a penalty. The kick was not an easy one - 38 metres out and to the right of the posts – but de Marcilla Bahlsen struck it superbly to register Abbey’s first points of the afternoon at the end of the first quarter.

Home winger Dan Cady made a promising break and Mitchell did well to stop him. Full back Owain Griffiths then ran 30 metres, but when scrum half Gerry Goss kicked towards the corner, Dampies was able to cover the ball and touch it down for a drop-out. Then, after some good rucking from Abbey, Mitchell made a great 30 metre break into the Beaconsfield 22. A try looked on, but he failed to find the supporting Dampies with his pass and an opportunity was lost. However, Abbey were awarded another penalty and once again de Marcilla Bahlsen judged his kick to perfection to put his side ahead. Unfortunately, the lead was only a brief one, and after Charlton was penalised for holding on to the ball, Lewis landed an easy kick to make it 8-6.

Good handling from outside half Jack Lambert-Taylor, Shackleford and Ed House saw Abbey break from just inside their 22. Dampies kicked ahead, but an unlucky bounce again gave Beaconsfield possession, albeit well inside their own half. To their credit they counterattacked well through Lewis, and after his winding run had taken play back into Abbey’s 22, Goss was up in support to cross for a try on the left. Lewis could not convert.

Beaconsfield were now well into their stride, and they scored again almost immediately. Morgan’s initial break was stopped by de Marcilla Bahlsen, but after George House halted Wilkinson’s charge from a five metre scrum, recycled possession saw Hopkins cross for his second try. Lewis converted well from close to the right touchline and Beaconsfield led 20-6 after 37 minutes. A fourth try followed soon afterwards, with Cady making the running before Labri dived over in the left corner with two Abbey defenders holding onto him. This gave Beaconsfield their bonus point, and another superb touchline conversion from Lewis extended their lead.

Abbey remained positive in the final minutes of the half, and they actually looked more likely to score during this period. Knights, Bevan and Shackleford combined well in a move which saw Seabourne halted close to the line, and then Mitchell came close to scoring following a good build-up from Lambert-Taylor and Shaw. Unfortunately, Mitchell sustained a head injury when he was tackled, and Abbey lost their most penetrative back. Glynn Webster came on in his place, and Abbey made one more effort to score a try with the last play of the half. Beckly drove well, but after Lambert-Taylor and George House had taken play to the left, Charlton’s difficult pass to replacement prop Will Lane was knocked on. Lane and Will Waring alternated in the Abbey front row throughout the match, while Beaconsfield’s various changes during the game included the introduction to the action of Hungarian international Andy Zair.

Trailing 27-6 at half time, Abbey began the second half with a rearranged side. Webster slotted in at No.8 with Beckly moving into the centre, where he looked impressive whenever he got the ball. A brilliant 30 metre break from Shaw nearly opened up the home defence, but Abbey conceded a penalty and Beaconsfield counterattacked. Ed House did well to stop Goss, and then a good tackle from Bevan prevented Labri from scoring again. Then Abbey were dealt another blow when George House suffered a nasty knee injury near his own line. His departure saw de Marcilla Bahlsen slot in on the flank with Daniel Norville coming in on the wing.

Good tackles from Lambert-Taylor and Shackleford stopped Lewis and Labri respectively, and then another run from Labri was halted by Seabourne. Beckly made a good 10 metre break from his own 22, and he followed this soon afterwards with a clever kick into space. Good support from prop Adam Postlethwaite and Knights carried on the move, but possession was lost near the home line. A good long touch kick from a penalty by Lambert-Taylor resulted in Shaw and Beckly setting up another attack, but Beaconsfield pinched possession and ran back at Abbey. Norville managed to stop Lewis, and after this it took the combined efforts of Seabourne and Beckly to force Labri into touch. Two more runs from Beckly put Abbey on the attack once more, but there seemed to be no way through the home defence.

The second half was now 30 minutes old, and no score had been registered since the interval. However, with ten minutes of play remaining Beaconsfield finally broke the deadlock when Cartwright ploughed over from close range after a lengthy spell of pressure. Lewis could not convert, and again Abbey tried to attack from the restart. Shaw and de Marcilla Bahlsen both ran well, and then we were treated to a glimpse of vintage play from Dampies. His magnificent 70 metre break really deserved to result in a try, but despite good support from Charlton and de Marcilla Bahlsen, Beaconsfield held firm.

With a couple of minutes remaining, home flanker Chris Creek was yellow-carded, and Abbey launched one last attack through Bevan and Ed House. But Beaconsfield had the final word when replacement hooker Simon Tattersall released Labri and the winger finally eluded the brave efforts of Seabourne to sprint clear on the left. By this time Lewis was off the field with a cut head, and centre Matt Brown saw his conversion attempt bounce wide off a post. The game ended immediately afterwards.

This was an encouraging effort from Abbey against a very good team. Beaconsfield are deservedly top of the table but they were given a thorough 80 minute workout and were never able to relax. Beckly was an excellent stand-in centre for Abbey, while Seabourne’s defence was very good. A word of praise too for the unobtrusive and efficient refereeing of Toby Rowe. Abbey’s players should feel pleased with their efforts, and a potentially close local derby fixture beckons when Reading visit Rosehill next weekend.

Abbey: G Dampies, M Seabourne, C Shackleford, B Mitchell (G Webster 39), D de Marcilla Bahlsen, J Lambert-Taylor, W Bevan (captain), W Waring (W Lane 25-40, 54), O Charlton, A Postlethwaite, J Knights, C Shaw, G House (D Norville 47), E House, M Beckly

Beaconsfield: O Griffiths, D Cady (D Wilson 39), R Morgan, M Brown, I Labri, A Lewis (A Zair 39-40, C Creek 73), G Goss, J Hopkins, W Jackson (S Tattersall 58), K Lin, S Morgan (captain), S Cartwright, K Kavanagh, C Creek (A Zair 50), C Wilkinson

Abbey:
Pen: De Marcilla Bahlsen (2)

Beaconsfield:
Tries: Hopkins (2), Labri (2), Goss, Cartwright
Con: Lewis (2)
Pen: Lewis

Yellow card:
Beaconsfield: Creek

Referee: T Rowe (East Midlands)

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# Team Pl Pts
6. Wallingford 22 61
7. Reading 22 57
8. Reading Abbey 22 47
9. High Wycombe 22 41
10. Stow-on-the-Wold 22 30
11. Gosford All Blacks 22 18
12. Drifters 22 2

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