Makeshift Avon tri­umph to set se­lec­tors prob­lems

Bath Chronicle - - SPORT -

Avon showed their strength in depth as an un­usual look­ing team pro­duced a scin­til­lat­ing per­for­mance to beat We­ston Hor­nets 2nds 54-0. Although miss­ing seven reg­u­lar choices and with sev­eral play­ers ap­pear­ing in un­fa­mil­iar po­si­tions – in­clud­ing skip­per Scott Book at fly­half – their han­dling and sup­port play was out­stand­ing and re­sulted in eight tries against the de­spair­ing vis­i­tors’ de­fence. Chaz Med­dick opened the scor­ing with a pow­er­ful drive over the try­line in the early stages, be­fore a thrilling burst from livewire scrumhalf Alex Gap­per on halfway found Lucas Pratt on an ex­cel­lent sup­port run to touch down near the posts. A flu­ent han­dling move in­volv­ing Med­dick, chair­man Ian Monochino-ayres and Xan­der Davis, then freed up space which Gap­per used to great ef­fect to fin­ish off their third try. Field­ing seven back-row for­wards among the pack and backs, Avon’s of­fload­ing game con­stantly kept Hor­nets guess­ing and it was no sur­prise when they added the bonus-point try be­fore half-time, as Jonny Batch­e­lor crossed out wide. His third suc­cess­ful con­ver­sion gave Avon a com­fort­able 26-0 lead at the in­ter­val, which they im­me­di­ately ex­tended af­ter the restart as a li­ne­out catch and drive saw Ben Hurd emerge from the pile of bod­ies for his first try of the sea­son. An­other pow­er­ful for­ward drive sucked in the Hor­nets de­fence be­fore play was moved wide to Pratt to switch in­side for his sec­ond. Hav­ing had run­ning re­pairs on a head wound, hooker Sam Book scored the next try af­ter Gap­per had burst through from quick line out ball. Con­stant re­cy­cling and sup­port work then led to Ian Bur­nell tak­ing route one be­fore even­tu­ally be­ing hauled down, but the ball was again swiftly moved to the blind­side where JJ Pul­vertaft scored their fi­nal try. Batch­e­lor added his sev­enth con­ver­sion to fin­ish with a per­sonal tally of 19 points. Af­ter­wards, avid touch­line sup­porter Mike Butcher, who was cel­e­brat­ing his 40 years with the club, said: “It’s a plea­sure to watch this side pro­duce a per­for­mance like that, par­tic­u­larly with so many play­ers show­ing their ver­sa­til­ity and should cre­ate some se­lec­tion prob­lems when the un­avail­able play­ers re­turn to ac­tion.” ■ Avon­vale Warmin­ster trav­elled to Bath­ford look­ing to add to their im­pres­sive start of five wins from six, but came across a stub­born and re­source­ful Avon­vale team that won 34-26. Vale, strug­gling with in­juries, in­cluded five colts in their squad who adapted well to se­nior rugby. Warmin­ster looked threat­en­ing through­out with their pacy cen­tre and Navy winger, but it was Vale who scored the first try when prop Archie Dow­man was bun­dled over the line by the rest of his for­ward pack. Fly-half Grant con­verted. Warmin­ster then scored in the cor­ner be­fore Vale’s young flanker Harry Iles tal­lied af­ter a pow­er­ful for­ward drive. With Vale get­ting over-con­fi­dent, a long pass was in­ter­cepted by the Warmin­ster cen­tre who raced away to score un­der the posts. Not to linger on mis­takes for too long, Vale showed great char­ac­ter to go back up the other end and, af­ter some great play by all the team, Grant scored out wide. Vale’s fit­ter for­wards were get­ting the bet­ter of their op­po­nents and prop Don­ald Wilkins scored from a catch and drive, which was con­verted to give them a 24-12 lead at half-time. In the sec­ond half, Vale’s man of the match, No8 Ge­orge Hobbs, drove over out wide be­fore Warmin­ster’s pacy winger danced through some poor Vale tack­ling to score un­der the posts to keep the vis­i­tors in con­tention. With Vale de­fend­ing des­per­ately, a turnover ball was hacked for­ward by Grant and with the rest of the Vale backs fol­low­ing him, the ball was spread wide for wing To­bias Ad­lam to score for a 34-19 lead. Warmin­ster scored an­other soft try when the Vale de­fence fell off too many tack­les to earn them­selves a try-scor­ing bonus point. With Warmin­ster also chas­ing a los­ing bonus point, Vale saw out the rest of the game by pin­ning them in their own 22 and came away vic­tors. Avon­vale’s 2nd XV played an ex­pe­ri­enced Stotherts sec­ond team and came away los­ing 52-10, but more im­por­tantly had 24 play­ers who had a game of rugby. The colts fin­ished off a great week­end for the club with a 14-5 win away at Wal­cot on Sun­day af­ter­noon. ■ old cul­ver­haysians It’s all change at the club as their new coaches seek a turnaround in for­tunes. The trio of An­drew ‘Tank’ Ball, Steve ‘Bully’ Ball and Dan Shep­perd have come in to over­see the coach­ing. There has been a big turn around in mind­set and re­sults, and from only hav­ing six or seven train­ing Cul­ver­haysians are now get­ting 18-20 each week, and this is show­ing with the re­sults and the way they are play­ing on a satur­day. Head coach Tank said: “This must be very pleas­ing for the boys, from go­ing from a team who have been on the wrong end of some bad re­sults to a team who have started to put a good run of great re­sults to­gether and go­ing in the right di­rec­tion af­ter an­other win against Frome this week­end.”

PIC­TURES: Paul Gillis

One of the many phys­i­cal bat­tles on dis­play as the Combe Down 2nd XV (yel­low) bested Bath Sara­cens 55-15

Bath Sara­cens at­tempt to haul a Combe Down player away from the try­line

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