Hurd benefits from strongest front row for years!
Avon extended their winning run with another bonus point victory by 34 points to nil on a boggy ground at Tor.
The scoring was dominated by arch predator Ben Hurd, who collected a personal haul of 4 tries plus an assist, but it was the all-round team performance that impressed on a difficult afternoon for cohesive rugby.
Avon opened the scoring after prop Chris Mutlow had danced up the wing on a 40 metre run, where a close range lineout was ruthlessly finished off by Hurd for his first try, converted by Jonny Batchelor out wide.
The game then got bogged down in a midfield morass for the next half hour as the heavy pitch and greasy ball prevented any fluent handling. Avon threatened at times with their midfield combination of Rob Fitch and man-of-the-match Tom Boreham but it was mainly left to the powerful runners up front in Kane Book, Ian Burnell and Chris Sawyer to make ground. Suddenly after Avon worked their way back up field onto the greener grass, a series of intense drives ended up with 3 successive line outs close to the Tor line and it was no surprise when Hurd scored his second try.
Tor enjoyed a good start to the second half but were denied by some tenacious Avon defence before the game again became disjointed in the heavy conditions. A penalty from Batchelor extended Avon’s lead before their fitness and efficiency in the red zone paid dividends. With winger Dan Griffin impressing as a makeshift line out jumper allied to a high tackle count, Avon cut loose in the final quarter with another 3 tries. The first came after Chaz Meddick came off the bench to lend his experience and weight, resulting in another close quarter try to complete Hurd’s hat-trick.
Then successive 5 metre scrums only had one outcome. After Hurd was adjudged to be held up over the line, he made no mistake second time around as he added his 4th try under the posts for Batchelor to slot the conversion. Shortly afterwards, with Tor expecting a repeat from another attacking scrum, Hurd generously exploited an overlap on the blind side to give the scoring pass to Alex Gapper.
Afterwards, coach Kai Harwood said “Although we were disrupted with 5 regulars missing, I’m pleased that we showed our versatility with several players in unfamiliar positions to overcome both the difficult conditions and a stubborn Tor side in a pragmatic performance without conceding any points.”
Avon are due to play city rivals Stotherts on Thursday night at Hicks Field with a 7:30pm kick off subject to the weather conditions.
Meanwhile Avon 2nds went down at home to Keynsham 3rds by 48-17 in the Bath merit table. Chairman Ian Monochino-Ayres and Ollie Harding-Wyatt scored tries for Avon as did a Keynsham guest player in the true spirit of the competition.