The Abingdon tour coach pulled into Herouville-Saint-Clair, (a suburb of Caen, and our hosts for a 3 way match) , just as the heavens opened. As the team made their way from the coach to the changing rooms they were met by a driving rain that changed quickly to sleet and then a horizontal monsoon.
20 players, 18 pairs of boots, and 7 supporters trudged through the adverse conditions.
Despite the conditions, the stadium itself looked in fantastic condition, and boasted covered dugouts for coaches and reserves, and a raised viewing stand for supporters.
The referee laid down a few local rules, which effectively meant uncontested scrums, and St. Lo are introduced as the first opposition for Abingdon.
St. Lo kick off, and the weather changes to warm sunshine and a gentle Gallic breeze. The ball is received by Hector, who passes out to Thomas Mooring, and onto Will Barker, who bursts through to the 5 metre. A knock on shortly after allows St. Lo to kick to clear, but only as far as Alex Lungu, who goes on a charge, passes inside to Ben Kili, out to Aled who chips a kick through for Dougie to run in for the first unconverted try of the match 0 - 5
On receiving the restart Abingdon pulled the ball from side to side testing the St. Lo defence, until a passing move by Jack, Dan and Dougie supplies Jacob Reid with the space to do a jinking run and over for another unconverted try 0 - 10.
Jorge Cabral comes onto the field, and is immediately in the action, as he receives the ball at the end of a line of passes, breaks 3 tackles, stumbles, finds his feet again, and blasts over for Abingdon’s third unconverted try 0 - 15.
Half time is blown.
St. Lo restart with a rolling attack, but it meets a very solid Alex Lungu tackle, and the ball goes loose. Jack Campbell runs onto the ball, kicks it forward, and scoops up the bounce to run 25 metres and over the try line. Gareth converts 0 - 22.
The next score for Abingdon is a clever move by Sam, who breaks from the scrum with lightening speed, and touches down for another unconverted try 0 - 27.
A well worked move the next one. Jorge puts in some hard work on the left wing, passes to Alex Lungu in the centre, and onto Luke on the right wing , who runs in for try number six, converted by Thomas Mooring 0 - 34.
Luke has a hand in creating the next score too as he tackles and stops a St. Lo attack, then pops the ball up to Jorge who runs in from distance. Gareth converts from a tricky angle. 0 - 41.
With seconds left on the clock Alex Lushington burrows under the St.Lo defence on the line for a try, and Gareth drop kicks the conversion 0 - 48.
A cheer and rousing applause met both sides as they left the field at the end of a match played in a fair and good natured manner, with very few penalties or intervention from the official,
Time for Abingdon to take on water and prepare for the next match, which was to be a 12 man per side affair, against Herouville, on a reduced playing area.
Interesting opposition fact : St. Lo is known as the ‘Capital of the ruins’ to remember the devastating destruction of the town during WWII. For this reason also, all the trees in the town are of the same height, as they were all planted at the same time after the war.
Herouville report coming soon……can Abingdon do the double?
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