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1st XV - Match centre

Reading Abbey
Sat 13 Jan 14:00 - South West Division - Southern Counties North Full time

Ays run in 6


Abbey picked apart in open play.

Abbey crashed to their heaviest defeat of the season as they failed to contain a lively Aylesbury side who revelled in the width of their new artificial pitch, running in 6 tries to Abbey’s one. The heavy loss sees Abby remain in 6th position, but they lose substantial ground to the promotion contenders.
This was no slouch of an Abbey team, just three changes from the team that performed with gritty determination in the win over Thatcham, and did well against Wallingford. Captain Will Woodward switched from a back row forward to inside centre alongside fly half Tom Burns to allow Maurice O’Connell to start at no 8.
Ay’s have an impressive new clubhouse and all-weather pitch, wider than usual for clubs at this level, and they know how to play the ground perfectly. The start, though, was promising for Abbey as Ays conceded 6 penalties on the trot. Kicking for goal was spurned for territorial pressure, so Abbey dominated. An Abbey early score was inevitable, and so it proved, as at last the goal option was chosen giving a penalty goal from the boot of Diego de Marcilla Bahlsen to open their account and take the lead.
The lead was soon wiped out. A wayward kick from Abbey failed to find touch and elusive running and quick hands put over winger Alex Shearer wide out, and from the touchline he added the extras.
Ays went down to 14 men when their scrum half was yellow carded allowing Abbey again to press from the 5-metre line. Ays rose to the challenge and prevented the score and kept a clean sheet whilst a man down, indeed they even added a penalty when Abbey held on to the ball as they defended a break out run from Ays. The game moved decisively in the home side’s favour as wayward passes and kicks presented Ays with opportunities. Making the most from broken play, winger Shearer, a constant thorn in Abbey’s side, added his second try and two more penalties.
So, Abbey despite having the better of the play, with full back Gavin Dampies and centre Arron Ross busy with threatening runs and Woodward regularly breaking the gain line, Abbey had nothing to show other than a de Marcilla Bahlsen penalty on the stroke of half time.
With the turn round score at 21-6, Abbey were expected to adjust to Ay’s running and handling and narrow the score. Like the first half, Abbey’s start was bright, forcing a penalty chance that went wide. Then just short of the hour, front row man Mark Toland was yellow carded for a high tackle, which allowed Ays to take full advantage of the extra man as their forwards went over the home side’s third try, Shearer again adding the extras.
Ays had their tails up as Abbey’s defence was stretched and pulled apart by the home side. That man Shearer made the most of it, and in the final quarter he ran in a further three tries, converting two of them to put the visitors to the sword.
All that was left for Abbey was a late uncoverted try from Ross, to bring the score line to 47-11.
This Saturday Abbey host second placed Buckingham, kick off 2.30pm. Abbey will need to tighten their play if they are to get a result against a high scoring side with promotion hopes.
Abbey : Dampies, Williams, Arron, Woodward ( Capt), Shackleford, Burns, de Marcilla Bahlsen, Waring, Toland, Postlethwaite, Knights, Shaw, E House, G House, O’Connell, reps all used : Charlton, Bradfield, Beckley.

Mike Mellor reporting

Team selection

Team selection has not been published for this fixture yet.

League round up

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League table

# 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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