Quins belie struggles to give Avon a fright
Avon were made to work hard by a Bristol Harlequins team whose first-half performance belied their lowly league position. Things started well for Avon as they took an early lead when manof-the-match Chaz Meddick crashed over wide out to open the scoring. Quins then hit back to take the lead with a converted try shortly after and dominated the rest of the half as their efficient pack controlled proceedings down the slope. They extended their lead with a penalty and only some excellent Avon defence and a few moments of good fortune prevented any further Quins scores. Eventually Avon weathered the storm and started to exert some control, going into half-time two points up against the run of play after Ben Hurd went straight though the middle of a breakdown to score a vital try. Having spent most of the first half in an arm-wrestle with the Quins pack, Coach Kai Harwood changed the tactics and told his players to open the game up. This worked instantly as Avon started to spread the ball wide, allowing Hurd to pick up his second try before winger James Leeming out-paced the defence to open up a two-score lead. Then, with ten minutes remaining, Avon’s tactics paid dividends as they exposed a tiring Quins defence with three more converted tries to put an added gloss on their win. Firstly Leeming added his second with another scorching run, then Alex Gapper touched down before Ollie Flight celebrated his birthday with the final try. Jonny Batchelor added four conversions before leaving the field through injury with second row forward Xander Davis nonchalantly slotting the final conversion. This late surge resulted in a 45-10 final scoreline which seemed harsh on the battling performance of the Quins side and keeps Avon in the mix in the top four of Somerset Premier. ■ Avonvale Calne were beaten despite a slow start as, for the first 20 minutes, Vale struggled to contain the opposition’s big forwards. Repeatedly going backwards at the scrum and with Calne using their forwards to great effect, Vale failed to get any foothold in the game. They realised their strength for this game lay with their backs and started to run the big Calne forwards around. Vale scored their first try when centre Ciaran O’connor shot through a huge gap and found fullback Charlie Holton on his shoulder to score under the posts. Flyhalf Steve Grant converted. Vale continued to move the ball around and centre Tom Hendy broke free to score with Grant adding the extras. Grant himself scored out wide and wing Josh Maegor scored near the posts to give Vale a 26-0 halftime lead. Calne scored a catch and drive try at the beginning of the second half but Vale’s front row of Archie Dowman, John Keepen and captain Hayden Rogers were dominant in the scrum, the forwards started to offload much better. From a quick lineout Holton threw the ball to Keepen who gave a quick pass for Maegor to show his pace and score. Maegor converted as Grant was off the field. With Vale running from their 22, a move involving forwards and backs with some deft handling by Keepen released Rogers to go in under the posts. And straight from the kick second row Joe Vowles galloped away before being tackled on the Calne 22. Quick ball was secured and 18-year-old No8 Kieran Cunningham romped over to give Vale a 45-5 victory. Spokesman Rich Rogers said: “With all our injuries at the moment the young players are having to step up to the plate and they are doing a good job of it.” Vale colts had an impressive victory by 25 points to seven away at Yeovil
Leigh Wheatley slides in for a try as Colerne cruised to a 43-7 win at home to Royal Wootton Bassett’s 3rd XV in Dorset & Wilts 2 North. He also added four conversions.
Dan Thomas storms through en route to the try-line