Exciting 22-22 draw to end season
Avon rounded off a successful season with an exhilarating 22-22 draw against a strong Old Reds 2nds team. This consolidates 3rd place on their return to the Somerset Premier league.
Before kick-off, both teams observed a minute’s silence to pay their respects to long-serving Avon stalwart, John Cashnella, who died suddenly last week.
For the first 30 minutes of this entertaining match, Old Reds monopolised possession and territory through their large pack and dangerous backs. Avon responded with some magnificent defence to hold them at bay, apart from a solitary try which the visitors scored in the right corner.
Then, as Avon eventually started to retain some ball and work their way upfield, several close quarter drives were held up just short of the line before Xander Davis forced his way over for their opening try. With Jonny Batchelor converting magnificently from the touchline, Avon took the lead against the run of play. They soon doubled this on the stroke of half time as some clever inter-passing created an attacking scrum 5 metres out. With an impressive surge from the pack, there was only one outcome as Ben Hurd pounced for his 11th try of the season. Batchelor again added the extras.
Old Reds started the second half with great attacking intent and were soon rewarded with a converted try in the corner to close the gap to 2 points. As Avon started to flag from their tough match in midweek, Reds seized their opportunity and created another well-worked converted try to take the lead. As the game ebbed and flowed, both sides cancelled each other out until Avon launched a massive effort in the final 10 minutes. Ian Burnell led the way with a charge through the middle, a series of pick-and-drives followed before Avon exploited the space out wide for man-of-the-match Dan Griffin to switch inside for the try to level the scores.
With the match in its final stages, Old Reds thought they had done enough to sneak the win with a straightforward penalty to open up a 3 point lead going into injury time. Avon had other ideas though and one last surge created the platform for a penalty award from 30 metres out. Batchelor held his nerve with the last kick of the match to earn a creditable draw after a pulsating finish to the season.
Afterwards head coach Kai Harwood said “I’m full of admiration for the team who have played 3 tough matches inside a week, with some players carrying injuries and others slotting in out of position. We said at the start of the season that we wanted to enjoy our rugby this year and I think this game showed the spirit and commitment within the squad.”