Confidence puts home side in the driving seat
AFTER their disappointing performance against Old Gravesendians last Saturday, the Ashford first fifteen pulled themselves together during the week and came out onto their home ground confident they could put together a winning performance against Sittingbourne in the Kent 1 League.
The Ashford pack had worked hard during the week on their basic scrumaging and the front five of Hammond, Murray, Norman, Adams and Richter proved themselves up to the task and provided good set piece balls for their backs.
The first 20 minutes were evenly matched with neither side able to break through.
It was Sittingbourne who scored first after 25 minutes with a penalty. This was followed almost immediately by an Ashford penalty kicked by fly half JJ Murray. The score at half-time was 3-3.
Soon after the break, JJ scored his second penalty of the day, and Ashford took charge of the game with good ball retention by the forwards, and the centre partnership of Walsh and Marama again battering their opponents with powerful runs and bruising tackles.
Karl Harding showed his flair coming into the line very effectively.
Wingers, Burden and McKay also showed their attacking ability. Ashford worked well to create opportuni- ties and were at last rewarded when Lakin punched his way up the centre, shrugging off the opposition to score his try of the season under the posts which JJ converted for 16-3.
Unfortunately, JJ Murray was then sin-binned leaving Ashford a man down for 10 minutes.
The home side kept on the pressure however, and Grant Burden stepped up to fly-half and kicked a confident penalty to extend Ashford’s lead.
All the while Sittingbourne never relaxed and worked for field position, eventually leading to a try in the corner for their winger.
Tom Murray took the man of the match for a solid all-round game, whileShane Bushell continued to work tirelessly at scrum-half providing the all-important link between forwards and backs.
Next week, Ashford will play in the third round of the EDF Vase away to Sheppey. SATURDAY saw Ashford 3rds travel to Sittingbourne to play their 2nds.
Excellent conditions meant that open rugby was the order of the day but both sides had other ideas and when Sittingbourne scored a converted try in the first five minutes, Ashford knew they were going to have to work harder. Ashford chipped away at the home side’s territory and with good passing in the backs, Shaun McLeod scored in the corner and Ash- ford were back in the game.
Early in the second half Ashford were awarded a penalty close to the halfway line but straight in front of the posts.
Up stepped McLeod who, calmly slotted home to give Ashford a narrow 8–7 lead.
Ashford had a player sin-binned and Sittingbourne immediately regained the lead from the resulting penalty.
Indecision from the home side backs allowed Ashford to capitalise on a mistake and although both McLeod brothers were involved in the move, it was Bobby Dhami who crossed the line to give the lead back to Ashford.
Jason Potter converted to increase the narrow lead and then added a penalty to make the score 18 –10 with little time left on the clock.
Sittingbourne scored a consolation try late on but were unable to convert the kick and Ashford won a very tight game 18–15.
Ashford now face Snowdown at home on Saturday.
Two Sittingbourne defenders battle to bring down Ashford’s Trevor Marama on Saturday