Con­fi­dence puts home side in the driv­ing seat

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Sport -

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.

Pic­ture: Dave Downey pd1494975

Two Sit­ting­bourne de­fend­ers bat­tle to bring down Ash­ford’s Trevor Marama on Satur­day

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