Champions Bromsgrove put in a stunning second half display to blitz past an excellent Abingdon side 45-17 in the NatWest Cup fifth round.
The West Midlands side will now face Bedford Modern in the last 16, before the competition goes national for the last 16 stage.
Bromsgrove were on top for much of the game, but went in at half time just a point ahead at 11-10 after some outstanding Abingdon defence had left the champions frustrated for the bulk of the half.
The two teams exchanged early penalties, before Bromsgrove then really began to pile on the pressure. Abingdon’s defence was then further stretched as they saw yellow for taking the man out in the air, accidentally, it should be said.
This period was arguably then home side’s finest of the game though as they held off wave after wave of Bromsgrove attack. With their impressive 1st XV pitch lined with spectators, there was a sense that perhaps they might be carried through this one on a wave of support. That sense was further heightened a few minutes later as they finally found themselves deep in Bromsgrove territory, and took full advantage, racing away under the posts to give themselves a 10-3 lead.
Just a couple of minutes later though, Bromsgrove hit back through their outstanding hooker Henry Walker, who is surely going to be a part of the England U18 set up this season.
He crashed over to bring his side within two points, before a George Wootten penalty on the stroke of half time gave Bromsgrove a one point lead at 11-10 going into the break.
It had largely been a forward dominated first half, and Abingdon had more than proved that in a battle of forward power and breakdown competitiveness, they could frustrate Bromsgrove and potentially steal a result.
The second half was to be a different prospect though as Bromsgrove used their electric backline to far greater effect, stretching the home side with a display of pace and precision that few can match.
Outside centre Blake Edwards was a menace all afternoon with his blend of pace and power, while the back three of Cooper Bent, Christophe Fostier, and George James were electric.
It was inside them though where the tough work was being done to create the space for that pace, which was eventually to yield five second half tries.
Scrum half Wootten was outstanding all afternoon, kicking from the tee, passing accurately, but most importantly posing a threat around the fringes that held the defence in. It was a similar story outside him with fly half James Taylor, whose distribution and organisation was key to his side’s success.
He produced one moment of magic fifteen minutes into the second half, after Edwards and James had scored tries to put Bromsgrove 25-10 ahead.
Picking up the ball on the Abingdon 22, he danced his way past four defenders before showing good pace to add to his footwork as he dotted down by the posts, stretching the lead to 32-10.
Captain and inside centre Alex Nisbet then moved the scores out to 37-10 as he stretched over the line. He was a formidable presence throughout the game. His opposite number hit back for Abingdon shortly after though, their one major foray into the Bromsgrove 22 in the second half bringing up a try, and demonstrating that with decent field position the home side remained a threat.
If Abingdon were hoping for a comeback though, Nisbet, now on kicking duties, pretty much ended that hope with a smartly taken penalty to pull the lead out to 40-17.
It was one of a series that Abingdon, under pressure, had given away, and the next one saw them see their second yellow of the game – for offside. It meant they would spend the last few minutes of the game a back down, and Bromsgrove, clinical side that they are, capitalised by sending over a booming crossfield kick for Fostier to dot down with the final touch of the game, securing a brilliant 45-17 victory.
The scoreline was perhaps a touch harsh on Abingdon, who competed well throughout and are definitely a decent side. Their first half display demonstrated their toughness, however Bromsgrove were simply too good in the second half.
The pace and precision that the champions brought to the game in the second half would have threatened just about every side in the country.
On this sort of form it is very hard to see there being many sides who can prevent them from securing a brilliant double. Bedford Modern await in the next round, and while they, like Abingdon, are a strong outfit, Bromsgrove will fancy their chances.
With a powerful forward pack, and an outstanding seven in Joseph Morrice, allied to an electric backline, they are a very formidable outfit indeed.
Full Time: Abingdon 17-45 Bromsgrove
You can see photos of the game, plus links to more, in our Gallery: Abingdon v Bromsgrove, Gallery.