Avon arrest losing run with vital derby victory over Keynsham
A first win of the calendar year arrested Avon’s slide towards the Western Counties North relegation zone as they completed a league double over Keynsham.
The hosts’ welcome 12-10 success at a very boggy Hicks Field left their local rivals third from bottom of the table, although they had to endure a tense finale before ending a barren run stretching back to December 15.
Avon took a fifth-minute lead when a well-controlled lineout catch and drive saw hooker Ben Hurd emerge from the pile of bodies to claim the opening try, which was converted by Rob Fitch.
Although Scott Book, Ben Dilloway and Jake Dixon dominated the lineouts and Avon’s powerful front row had the upper hand in the set scrums, needlessly-conceded penalties and turnovers prevented them from cashing in.
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The visitors also looked dangerous when they moved the ball wide but were repelled by strong tackles from Damien Sawyer, Ben Crane and Stuart Dilloway.
A penalty early in the second half cut Avon’s lead to four points and their task was made even more difficult when Book was yellow-carded after the referee issued a general warning for the number of penalties being given away.
The remaining seven forwards managed the ten-minute shortfall excellently, though, and Avon stoked up the pressure once restored to their full complement.
A flowing handling move saw Dilloway scorch down the left wing to score a try in the corner and, although Fitch’s conversion attempt bounced back off the crossbar, Avon felt safe at two scores ahead with ten minutes remaining.
But they almost came unstuck as a dropped pass allowed Keynsham to hack forward and winger Russ Tanner outpaced the covering defence to score a converted try.
That gave Keynsham a losing bonus point but they were unable to gain any further reward as Avon wound down the clock to secure a deserved win.
Avon will look to build on the result at home to Burnham on Saturday. The England v France game will be shown on the big screen afterwards, with the clubhouse also hosting a sausage and cider party.