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Home > News > Reading Abbey 15 - Witney 24
Your News Reading Abbey 15 - Witney 24

After last weeks downbeat performance the lads needed to go to Reading Abbey and

really give it their best. From the kick off they were hungry to secure the kick

off and very much looked €œup for it€. It was the home side that impressed in the

early stages with some slick handling and running some good lines. They won some

excellent lineout ball and were looking by far the side more likely to open the

scoring. They did not disappoint their home support and a speculative kick

forward found a tricky bounce and their winger (ex-Tadley flier!) pounced and

showed the visiting defence a clean pair of heels, a useful conversion was

slotted and the home side deserved their lead. This was soon increased as a

penalty was slotted and Witney knew they needed to respond soon. Lee Douglas had

a useful dart up one wing and slowly Witney began to believe in themselves.

They started moving purposefully upfield and a super break from Tom Harper in

the Witney midfield set up great field position. A couple of forward rumbles

later and Witney found themselves encamped on their hosts line. While the Abbey

lineout had impressed (and continued to do so), their scrimmage was under

increasing pressure as Alan Richens, Sam Collins and Mark Fuller were giving

their opposites a difficult afternoon in the set piece. When a five yard scrum

was awarded, Witney knew it was their chance and the first surge saw them

creeping towards the line. While the control at the base was not perfect, when

the ball popped out, scrum half Gareth Campbell was skillfiull enough to pick up

and drop over for a fine try, Henry Lamb converting. Witney had a similar chance

a few minutes later but Joe Rowles was held up and a golden opportunity had


The first half was almost over but Reading Abbey found time to launch another

attack and they recycled a few times before spinning it wide. The Witney defence

looked to have the attack covered but a nice dummy and turn of pace from their

full back saw him race over out wide, the conversion was missed and the interval

came. The team was given a earnest team talk and despite giving far more than

they had the previous week, they knew they had to up it once again in the second


The forwards were really starting to raise their game with all making good

ground and Sam Collins and Owen Fowler making some real hard yards. Abbey

started to not look quite so controlled as Witney began to increase the pressure

in the tackle and force some errors. At the heart of their effort was Carl

Campbell whose desire to win was second to none with huge mileage and numerous

tackles. Witney forced their way into the home sides 22 and as a penalty was

conceded, Gareth Campbell to a quick tap to keep the momentum going. He ran a

few yards before electing to pop the ball to the charging Charlie Bennett who

was at full lick and barged his way over. Henry Lambs conversion made it 15-14

and the match had really come alive. A Henry Lamb chip through saw Carl Strutt

look to have touched down but the referee instead awarded a five yard scrum and

it was a chance missed.

Abbey showed glimpses of their much vaunted back play but failed to capitlise

from a couple of half chances. The best was when their full back made a

scintillating break but after having done the hard work he failed to find any of

his support and the home supporters sighs were getting louder. Witney came back

downfield and Jake Thomas, Lee Douglas and James Monks were starting to combine

well running back the many kicks they were now being bombarded with. Monks found

some gaps to run through and Abbey were finding themselves defending more and

more. No clearcut chances came though Witney soon were back on the defensive as

the home side threw everything at the visitors. Skipper Jez Hicks leading from

the front in this defensive effort that needed organisation, technique and most

of all heart. Witney had the last of those in bucket loads and they halted wave

after wave of attacks. Eventually the ball was turned over, a kick upfield and

good pressure from Joe Rowles saw a penalty conceded. Henry Lamb stepped up from

halfway and thumped a peach of a kick through the uprights to leave the home

side stunned.

As you would expect, Abbey came back and had a couple of penalty chances, one

was optimistic and missed but the other was more straight forward and suffered

the same fate. At that point the heart drained out of the home side and a superb

steal from Witney and a kick upfield from Tom Harper saw Witney back on the

offensive. Owen Fowlers strong run sucked in many defenders and the ball should

have gone wide but Gareth Campbell failed to utilise the overlap. He made up for

that though as a scrum saw Witney pound the home sides line with no joy but

Campbell spotted the gap and darted over to leave Witney jubilant. Henry Lambs

kick was the icing on the cake and the last few minutes were played out with

both side knowing the result was now in the bag. The final whistle sounded and

Witney were exstatic with their win.

1st XV

Thomas, Douglas, Harper, Strutt, Monks, Lamb(H), Campbell(G): Fuller, Collins

(S), Richens, Fowler, Bennett, *Hicks(J), Campbell(C), Rowles

Repl: Caffekey(C.Campbell-45, Bennett-70), McRoberts(Douglas-65), Burke-not used


Last week was a great disappointment as the team never really got out of the

blocks and win, lose or draw, the performance was needed against Abbey. The boys

came out with plenty of heart and total commitment but also showed great

patience leading upto their tries and didn€™t try to force the game. Reading

Abbey had a couple of real jewels in their back line but up front, despite a

very solid lineout, they were outplayed in a few other areas up front and

especially in the scrum. Witney really knuckled down this match and had learned

from the poor effort last week. The balance looked better this week with Tom

Harper having a strong match in midfield. The new look back three got better as

the match progressed and the half backs had excellent matches too. However the

real pat on the back goes to the forwards who ground their hosts down and should

really have scored a couple more tries. The home touch judge mentioned to me

that he forwards win matches and the backs decide by how much, fair comment for

this match. In the home sides programme, it was stated that Witney should,

€œStand back and admire the flair and keep an eye on the score€. Well, we did the

latter two but could not really be accused of €œstanding back€ to any degree!

Lets hope the lads keep this level of commitment in future matches and if they

do, a good season will be on the cards.

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