Too little, too late as disruptions bite
By Steve Bird
Despite a spirited comeback, Avon had to settle for a losing bonus point as Burnham closed out a 25 – 19 home win
This allowed Burnham to gain revenge for an early season loss at Hicks Field and leapfrog Avon into 3rd place in the Somerset Premier table.
Already starting with a depleted backline, Avon were forced into further reshuffles as they lost both centres to injury inside the first 30 minutes. They also fell off too many first-up tackles allowing Burnham to get behind their defences and take advantage of some good support play to open the scoring with an unconverted try from their elusive scrum half. Looking dangerous down the left wing, they added another two tries with some good handling to open up a 17 point lead inside the first half hour.
This left Avon staring down the barrel but with replacement prop Chaz Meddick making some powerful bursts as an emergency inside centre, they gradually gained some attacking field position, allowing Ollie Flight to cut an excellent line to surge over for a converted try under the posts just before half time.
Burnham responded quickly in the second half to score their bonus point try out wide down the left hand channel again but this eventually seemed to spark Avon into life. After the Cashnella Man-of-the-match Ian Burnell had an attempted try disallowed, Avon made no mistake from the next play as Alex Gapper sniped over the line. This try gave Avon a much-needed confidence boost and they eventually started to play with more cohesion in attack and organisation in defence.
This forced Burnham to slot a penalty to open up a more comfortable lead but Avon set up a thrilling finish as skipper scott book came off the bench with 10 minutes remaining and scored their third try with his first touch of the ball after a rolling maul. Jonny Batchelor converted to bring up his 150 points for the season and suddenly Avon were in full flow with a chance to pull off an unlikely win but a turnover deep inside the home 22 allowed Burnham to wind the clock down for a deserved win.
Josh Harding-Wyatt warmed up enthusiastically and looked good in the first 5 minutes. Unfortunately he spent the next 75 minutes encouraging his team mates from the touchline as he proved his injury hadn't affected his vocal chords.
Next Saturday Avon host Imperial at Hicks Field, who defeated league leaders Wiveliscombe this week.