Reading Abbey II vs The Crows



On yet another unseasonably warm autumn day, the Crows again travelled across County lines, this time to Oxfordshire and Reading Abbey RFC.

No less than 3 of the Crows’ contingent were returning to their old club, with prop, (although on this occasion, openside flanker), Jake Mollett, fly half, John Holden and inside centre, Charlie Shackleford.

This fixture had looked tricky for quite some time for the Crows management team, as several players were due to be unavailable due to holidays, England v Japan and injuries. However, with some creativity in selection and buoyed by a couple of new recruits, Crowthorne were able to field a squad of 17.

In great contrast to last season, an excess of front rows, meant that there were a mere 5 props in the starting pack. In addition to the traditional loose (Turner) and tight (Allen), Crowthorne fielded props at hooker (Osborne), blindside (Derlacki) and openside (Mollett). Sam Turner at loosehead making his Crows debut. Given it was his first match for the club, it seemed only fair to let him play his actual position. Amongst the subs, there was another debutant in utility back, Henry Wareing, sporting a fetching pair of black tights.

Receiving from the kick off, the ball fell to Dowd, who made good yards up the field before the ball was recycled and Holden cleared deep into Abbey territory. An excellent chase from the flying American, EJ Lang, put sever pressure on the Abbey winger who was forced into touch. From the resultant lineout, the ball was worked to Redpath and onto Shackleford, who crossed for a first minute try. Conversion from Holden followed to make it 7 nil Crows.

From the next kick off, the ball landed in the arms of veteran skipper, Tom Stock, who carried into the Abbey half. From there, some excellent interplay between all 3 front row, saw them take it in turns to power up field, before eventually winning a penalty. The ball was duly kicked to the corner for a Crows lineout. A well executed catch and drive followed, with Osborne spectacularly swan diving over the line to make it 12 nil.

The restart again picked out Stock. He passed to Redpath, who shot through a hole in the Abbey defence. Further interplay between backs and forwards, including the rampaging Mollett, followed, before Shackleford, with the line at his mercy, unfortunately dropped the ball over the line. Whilst he failed to double his try total for the day, he delighted his former team mates and scooped the dick of the day prize early in the match. Shortly after this, Crowthorne were back in the Abbey 22 and the ball was worked through hands, with good touches from scrum half Shepherd and the Wokingham Express, Craig Joyce, before reaching the left hand corner and Tom Dowd crossed, to make it 17-0 to Crows. Soon to be 19 nil with Holden’s conversion.

For the 3rd time in succession, the ball was kicked to Stock, who popped it to a charging Dowd. After good yards were made, another penalty was awarded to Crowthorne and again Stock opted to kick for the corner. The lineout was quickly formed and Osborne threw in before collecting at the back of the maul, as it drove rapidly forward and Osborne again crossed for his 2nd of the day and 3rd of the season. The Thai typhoon having a day to remember before he jets off to Dubai on international Tinder business. Holden again converted and the half time score was 26-0 to Crows.

At the break, top points scorer, Dan Coombes entered the action, along with Wareing. After the restart, the Crows struggled to recapture the fluency of the first half and mistakes began to creep in on both sides. A scrappy 2nd 40 offered little to the spectators. There were a few bright moments. Last week’s man of the match, Tom Dowd, breaking from another lineout maul to cross over for his 2nd of the day, to make it 31 nil Crowthorne. Right wing, Luke Smith looked lively when the ball reached him and on one occasion, actually managed to lose his shirt in a tackle but retain possession and continue his run, topless, towards the Abbey line! Sadly his naked run was soon halted after the referee pinged him for jumping into a tackle. Unsurprisingly, given the excess of props, there was a lot of scrummaging and Crowthorne were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty try after driving Abbey back over their own line before the scrum was collapsed.

A rare passage of open play ended the match on a high note, with Marriott collecting an Abbey kick through, deep in Crows territory, before kicking back into the Abbey half and valiantly chasing his own kick. His chase was well supported by Coombes, who rucked over strongly, allowing Marriott to strip the ball back and dive over the line for his 2nd of the season and Crowthorne’s 6th try of the day. Holden added the conversion and the game ended 38 nil to Crows.

All in all, a good day out, a bonus point won on the road, despite a raft of unavailabilities. The 2nd half was a bit disappointing from a Crows perspective but that gives the players plenty to work on, as they build towards the home game with Reading on the 26th of November at the nest. The post match hospitality was excellent from Abbey and included a tug of war between opposition man of the match / dick of the day and their Abbey counterparts. Another great innovation to add to the Phoenix post match ceremony that we experienced a few weeks earlier. We look forward to welcoming Abbey to Crowthorne in the New Year.

Man of the match on the day went to debutant prop, Sam Turner, who showed some great touches with ball in hand, scrummed well and lifted in every single lineout. Notable mention also to James Derlacki, again playing out of position at flanker but also having to jump in the lineout, which he did excellently, taking every ball sent his way.

This Saturday is a bye week for the Crows, so we can all enjoy England v New Zealand and look forward to seeing supporters again on the 26th at home to Reading!


Date Time League Season
12/11/2022 3:00 pm Counties 3 Tribute Berks Bucks & Oxon South 2022-2023


Reading Abbey II00Loss
The Crows038Win

Reading Abbey II

Position T C P DG

The Crows

# Player Position T C P DG
Sam TurnerFront Row0000
James DerlackiFront Row0000
Kankudai OsborneFront Row2000
Tom Dowd2ND Row2000
Tom Stock2ND Row0000
Gregory RedpathBack Row0000
Clive ShepherdBack0000
Edward LangBack0000
Matt MarriottBack1000
Jacob MollettFront Row0000
Dan CoombesHalf Back0000
Craig JoyceBack0000
Mark AllenFront Row0000
Luke SmithBack0000
John HoldenHalf Back0400
Charlie ShacklefordBack1000
Henry Wareing-0000
 Total 6400