Avon Rugby pre-season 2014/15

Double Report vs Devizes & Oldfield
by Steve Bird

Avon enjoyed a successful practice match against South West 1 side Devizes as they started preparations for their new season’s campaign in Western Counties North.  With over 30 players seeking to impress over four 20 minutes sessions, this provided both sides with a competitive and physical workout in a live playing environment.

Avon have strengthened their squad by recruiting prop Chas Meddick from Dings Crusaders and utility back Nick Tribe from Chosen Hill.  They have also signed up promising youngsters Alex Gapper, James Leeming, Charlie Harland, Matt Thresher and Peter Watts to bolster their squad resources.

The first quarter saw Devizes dominate possession and territory during the opening stages which gave Avon ample opportunity to demonstrate their cast iron defence.  Then Avon showed their attacking capabilities as a quick fire breakout resulted in predatory hooker Ben Hurd scoring their opening try.  Shortly afterwards skipper Kai Harwood opened his account with their second try after good interpassing amongst the pack.

With Rob Fitch slotting the conversions, Avon held a 14 nil lead before changing their entire team for the second quarter.  Their second team squad replacements began soundly with impressive close quarter driving play from the forwards, although they had few chances out wide.  Devizes reduced the deficit with a well crafted try from Matty Holloran before the half time break.

As Avon reintroduced their first team squad for the 3rd quarter, their powerful pack started to dominate proceedings and it was no surprise when Harwood added his second try from a short range scrum.  As their confidence grew, the backs posed further questions out wide and quickly recycled ball was moved smoothly along the line for Damien Sawyer to score in the corner for a commanding lead.

Further wholesale changes for the last quarter saw Avon’s second string on the defensive against their opponents quicksilver three quarters who ran in 3 tries through Chris Barter (2) and Ali Broughton to level the scores.  Avon counter attacked strongly and turned down two kickable penalties in front of the posts in search of the decisive try only for Seb Hutchings to score at the other end with the last move of the match.

Avon completed their pre season preparations with a solid 24-7 win over city neighbours Oldfield in a useful warm up match ahead of their new Western Counties North league programme.

The first session saw Avon totally dominate possession and territory only to be thwarted by resolute Oldfield defence and too many unnecessary penalties and turnovers.  Avon’s front 5 set the scene with a powerful display anchored by props Kane Book and Chas Meddick, whilst flankers Chris Sawyer and Ian Burnell grafted tirelessly in the loose.

After a powerful midfield burst from Zak Harwood, Avon were denied a try in the corner but made amends from a lineout catch and drive for brother Kai Harwood to emerge from the pile of bodies with the ball for the opening try, converted by Rob Fitch.

The second session followed a similar pattern with Avon threatening to break loose but being denied by their visitors gritty tackling with centre Harry Godwin and fullback Danny Elvira to the fore.  After Harwood, Fitch and Meddick were all held up just short of the try line, Avon launched another attack but an over-ambitious long miss pass was intercepted by Ollie Lee who raced 75 metres downfield to score under the posts at the other end of the pitch.

Finding themselves level at 7 points apiece despite their earlier dominance, Avon responded to coach Clive Book’s stern words before the third session and tightened up their attitude and approach.  This immediately brought dividends as another powerful lineout catch and drive saw Avon power 25 metres for another try from hooker Ben Hurd to regain the lead.

With youngster James Leeming making a useful debut and stalwart Damien Sawyer pulling the strings in midfield, a concerted attack was rewarded as Hurd snaffled up the loose ball for his second try, again converted by Fitch to open up a healthy lead.  Avon then introduced several of their youngsters and fringe players and, after defending some promising Oldfield attacks by Dylan Akaumne-Miles and James Kelloch, a long range counter swept play downfield for Jake Dixon to score Avon’s fourth and final try.

Avon begin their league campaign next Saturday (6th Sept) away to local rivals Stotherts.

 Many thanks to Steve Bird for both reports, looking forward to more high quality reporting throughout the season!

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