New Year New Abbey
Abbey edged out
Reading Abbey started 2019 with the return fixture against Marlow, this time at home. The expectations for the game were mixed as Abbey had ended their losing streak in the last game before Christmas with a remarkable comeback from 19-0 down but having lost their last game to Marlow 43-8, Abbey’s biggest loss of the season. Despite this Abbey looked strong for large parts of the game, once again showing their ability to come from behind and the gap in the score line is not a representation of the gap in class, with the final score 24-34 to the visitors.
Marlow started the game the better side with evidence to prove it, after Ed House stole a lineout and grubbered through, full back and captain Nick Carvey picked up the loose ball and countered, something he did exceptionally well throughout the game, leading to Marlow easily exploiting an overlap for left winger Nick Gorhan to score in the corner, a difficult conversion was missed making it 5-0 after just 3 minutes. They capitalised on their early advantage, with Marlow fly half Maddern pinning Abbey in their 22 with effective touch finders, with the lineouts resulting in a yellow card for Maurice O’Connell and then Ollie Charlton for disrupting the mauls. Marlow kept pushing and eventually got their second try after an Arron Ross hold-up, with captain Carvey going over after another simple overlap making the score 0-12 after 15 minutes.
With memories of Abbey’s last game against Marlow creeping back, it was not looking good for the home side, however they rallied together and forced themselves back into the game. Ed House, arguably Abbey’s best player of the afternoon, made a barnstorming break through the middle and offloaded well to Max Courtnage. The forwards secured the ball well giving Will Bevan an opportunity to chip in behind for Alex Langford-Pollard to chase. He pressured his opposite number well allowing fullback Jules Greenaway to pounce on a loose ball and grab Abbey’s first points out wide. Ollie Walton converted well to close the gap to 5 points: 7 – 12. Abbey kept pressurising with a fully replenished 15 (it should be noted that they defended the set-piece well with just 6 forwards) and Ollie Walton added 3 with a penalty to make it a 2-point game. With a spring in their step Abbey pushed on, a scrum enabled number 8 Courtnage to make good ground down the blindside, but Langford-Pollard was tackled into touch after taking the offload. However, O’Connell stole the lineout and finished off his own start to the move by breaking a tackle a couple of phases later and scoring left of the posts. Walton added the extras to make it 17-12 after 35 minutes. This was also the half-time score, but only due to a notable defensive work by Ed House, Greenaway and Langford-Pollard on the Abbey try line to relieve pressure.
The second half began almost identically to the first, a score 3 minutes after the opening whistle with Maddern making a break down the right, and Ian Brown scoring after a couple of very well executed offloads. The conversion was successful resulting in a scoreline of 17-19. Here Marlow took the front foot and didn’t look back. After a promising counter attack yet again through Carvey was stopped by the Marlow physio, the away side started building up the phases. This eventually led to a fantastic run by inside centre Miles Noble beating three Abbey defenders to make the score 24-27 as the conversion was missed. Despite very good ball-carrying coach Luke Harding will frustrated that so many tackles were broken by the likes of Carvey and Noble, something he’ll no doubt seek to improve in training.
Although the visitors seemed to have finally gained control, Abbey kept fighting, once again Ed House broke through the middle and offloaded to O’Connell, another one of Abbey’s stand outs, taking Abbey to the Marlow 22. After some impressive phase play Abbey crept up to the try line and eventually House went over for a well-deserved try. Walton converted to bring the scores level at 24-24 after 60 minutes, but this was the last time Abbey were able to keep hold of the ball for any considerable amount of time.
Nick Gorhan took his second of the day 7 minutes later after a turnover in the set piece marking a period of messy play and poor handling inflicted by good defence by either side. The last score of the game to put the nail in Abbey’s coffin came with 2minutes remaining, Noble going over for his second with an astutely chosen line off a maul. Both conversions went amiss leaving us with a final score of 24-34 to Marlow. Abbey will be extremely disappointing as they were the better side going into the second half. Marlow however were much quicker out of the blocks in both halves giving Abbey an unnecessary uphill task. Regardless of this Abbey defended very well in the tight, especially when 2 men down and we mustn’t forget the score from Abbey’s last encounter with Marlow, a huge turn around by Harding and the team who should hold their heads up high, but instead are kicking themselves after letting a good opportunity go amiss, which is a testament to the resilience and character of the team.
Abbey: Russ Orrburns, Ollie Charlton, Adam Postlethwaite, Chris Shaw, Maurice O’Connell, George House, Ed House, Max Courtnage, Will Bevan (c), Arron Ross, John Malivoire, Oliver Walton, George Pawlett, Alex Langford-Pollard, Jules Greenaway. Subs: Edd Woodger, Adam Brooker, Chrissy Munce (all used).
Marlow: Christopher Clarke, James Forsyth, Ed Smyth, Benjamin Burnett, Jack Henderson, Ian Thomson, Max Roberts, Ian Brown, William Sones, Jamie Maddern, Nick Gorham, Miles Noble, Stuart Mackay, vasa Bai, Nick Carvey (c). Subs: David Potton, Will Reynolds, Cameron Andrew Denton.