HSBC – 24
Ashford – 10
An Ashford side feeling the effects of a long season, with a number of absent players made the last long away trip of the season to face an HSBC team they had only narrowly beaten earlier in the season knowing that they would be in for a stern test.
What followed was a very poor initial 10 minutes where Ashford didn’t seem to realise the game had kicked off. There were numerous errors and a collective lack of thinking upon which HSBC seized, as they took full advantage of a poorly fielded kick to score an unconverted try within the first 3 minute. Ashford ventured into the HSBC 22 but a telegraphed move from the backs was intercepted, allowing their winger to race away and score under the posts, which was, this time, converted.
Ashford finally woke up and to their credit, were full of endeavour for the remainder of the half. Although for their entire endeavour, a lack of quality in the final pass or move, meant they were unable to register a point. HSBC were clearly up for the fight and it was a game often played on the limit of the law with HSBC looking to provoke the Ashford wherever possible, a little skulduggery from both sides was being let go by the referee who generally speaking had a solid game. The Ashford forwards were working hard and their scrum was always a point of strength with the ever dependable King and Norman dominating their props and Dan Shez looking more and more suited to the hooking role. The lineout, which has in fairness been inconsistent all season, operated well with Mason Pilcher in particular having an excellent game, all this was all marshalled by the returning Ben Gray who was full of energy, distributing well and looked very much at home in the 9 shirt.
The 2nd half came and Ashford were back in the game as Dan Brown finished off an excellent forward effort which was unconverted by Tanner. HSBC, now playing up the slope were working hard to defend the Ashford onslaught, as always there was plenty of endeavour up front and some determined running from the likes of Bowes and Walsh in the backs, but what was often lacking was the final pass or a poor decision in key areas, and this meant Ashford struggled to add to their points total. HSBC on the other hand were showing much more composure in attack and scored again with 10 minutes to go, to all but finish off the game.
After dropping the scrum for what seemed like the 10th time “Craig” loose head prop was yellow carded and dispatched for the remainder of the game and Ashford scored again, which again was unconverted. Rather than a grandstand finish it was HSBC who fought their way up field again and scored a final try to secure a well-deserved win.
This was a disappointing defeat against a resolute opposition, Ashford are very much limping to the end of what has been a physically and mentally draining season. Perspective is a wonderful thing and it was mentioned by one of the boys how far the team has come on from the last few seasons and even early in the season when they were languishing near the relegation zone. This is absolutely true, there are lots of positives to be taken from the season and with one final league game at home this Saturday it is hoped that the boys can go out and deliver a performance reminiscent of those barnstorming wins delivered earlier in the season.