two weddings and ..... elation !!
Youngsters show their mettle in a nail biter !
A try from Abbey’s Dave Canham on the stroke of full time snatched victory in a thriller, see-sawing throughout. The result leaves Reading still seeking their first win of the season whilst Abbey’s man of the match full back Jules Greenaway scored two tries and laid on the third.
Abbey were depleted by the social calls of two weddings, leading to 8 changes from their regular line up and giving three players their first team debuts. Maurice O’Connell in the second row took the captaincy in the absence of Will Bevan. Reading made 6 changes from their last outing as they looked for winning combinations.
The start was ominous for Abbey as the expected forward dominance of the Reading pack was evident from the outset, taking advantage of Abbey’s re-arranged front row. The opening saw Reading well on top, confidently putting four successive penalties into touch, aiming for the subsequent catch and drive, but to no avail.
The visitors failed to find the try line until the 22nd minute, centre Alex Dorliac running home having been put clear by his centre partner George Dear, with scrum half Guillaume Janvin took the extras then a penalty on the half hour. The time delay in scoring allowed Abbey to settle to the task, conquering early nerves and benefitting from a shuffled front row as Ollie Charlton replaced Ross Orrburns ; their scrum was no longer in regular retreat.
Abbey made their response; it was their turn to dominate as their pack established a platform for possession, flanker Jack Brown revelling in his non-stop work. With half time approaching full back Jules Greenway collected a clever chip ahead from outside half Theo Evered to cross the white wash wide out on the right. The kick went astray but the pressure was pumped up as Abbey’s young side increased the pace, scrum half John Maliviore on his debut, unlucky not to score, capturing his chip ahead but tackled short of the line.
Two attacking scrums for Abbey followed, but the advantage wasn’t pressed home. A penalty out wide was put into touch for the subsequent drive, but the visitors held out, and when Abbey had a clear overlap, it was spurned for a step inside only to hit the last defender. Maurice O’Connell crossed the line in the dying seconds, but the referee adjudged he had touched down short and he disallowed the second movement. Half time saved Reading and their lead of 10-5.
Abbey were quick out of the blocks for the second half, and another strong run from full back Greenaway made good ground to put away winger Dave Canham, but he was called back as the touch judge spotted a foot in touch. Centre Ollie Walton kept the momentum with two penalties grabbing the lead for the home side by a single point.
Now it was Reading’s turn to turn the screw. They stole Abbey’s line out ball, barged through the centre and released winger Will Proctor- Smith to race home for the unconverted try that restored the visitor’s lead.
Reading held the lead for just four minutes. A clearance kick failed to find touch, and Greenaway ran back strongly, chipped the ball over the advancing defence, did enough juggling to keep possession then put down the try that provided Walton with an easy conversion to go back in front by three points. It was now that Abbey supporters appreciated Jim Dye coming off the bench at half time, his measured play, and touch line kicking and assured presence boosted confidence.
The Rosehill faithful had their worries when second row man Chris Shaw was yellow carded for persistent off-side play. Reading were soon to take advantage of their extra man when no 8 Jamie McNab stepped through a ruck and see the line before him; an easy touch down. Scrum half Janvin added the two points to impress on his debut ; so Reading now had the lead by a crucial four points with eight minutes remaining.
Abbey were satisfied that the man advantage to Reading had been limited to one score, but they needed more than a penalty – and urgently. As at the end of the first half Abbey’s youngsters upped the pace, their forwards camping 5 metres out and the backs sprayed the ball around. Reading’s defence which had been admirable throughout, absorbed the strain, looking as though they would see time out. Abbey’s man of the match Greenaway came to the rescue, joining the line on the left to draw the defence, feeding the pass to winger Dave Canham to dab down the last gasp winner.
It’s rare for Abbey to beat Reading in the league, and it’s never been by more than a point. Reading were deflated, Abbey elated. That seemingly endless list of unavailabilities meant new personel and positional changes. All stepped up to show their commitment and talent. For them it was the biggest game of the season, and Coach Luke Harding’s policy of making enjoyment the touchstone for the season, had paid dividends. Afterwards he smiled and said, ‘we had belief; but we did leave it to the last moment to produce that continuity and handling skills we work on at training’.
Abbey’s clubhouse buzzed as their playing management, despite being severely hampered by those weddings, fielded three teams: the 2nds against Reading the 3rds against Redingensians and all Abbey sides won. A whitewash afternoon – enjoyment indeed.
Next week : Abbey have a second consecutive home fixture to host Windsor, 3pm kick off.
Referee: Mr Ben Green from Bristol
Teams and scorers -
Abbey : Russ Orrburns, Adam Postlethwaite,Ed Woodger, Maurice O'Connell (capt), Chris Shaw, Jak Brown, Matt Simmons, James Wisener, John Maliviore, Theo Evered, Alex Langford- Pollard, Ollie Walton, Charlie Shackleford, Dave Canham, Jules Greenaway reps : Ollie Charlton, Max Courtnage, Jim Dye ( all used)
Reading :Josh Pallett, Steve King, Josh Nicol, Fraser Koefman, Ryan Smith,Taylor McRoberts, Grant Spears, Jamie McNab, Guillaume Janvin, Stuart Borthwick, Chris Grieg, George Dear, Alex Dorliac, Will Proctor- Smith, Sam Taylor, Reps : Adam Gyles, Adam Beale - both used, Kheson Howara. not used.
Scores : Abbey: Tries : Jules Greenway (2), Dave Canham
Conversion 1, Penalties (2) Ollie Walton
Reading: Tries : Alex Dorliac, Will Proctor- Smith, Jamie McNab
Conversions (2) Penalty (1)Guillaume Janvin