Ashford 41 – Aylesford 5
A bumper crowd at Kinney’s Field boosted by a well-attended lunch were treated to a fine game of rugby on Saturday, with Ashford ultimately running out easy winners against an Aylesford side similarly finding themselves at the wrong end of the league table. With the weather fine, and the pitch looking magnificent there was plenty of running rugby to enjoy.
Ashford even with some absentees were able to field what is becoming a fairly settled pack of forwards. Dan Sherrin was unavailable so Andy Ticehurst moved from lock to flanker and put down a big marker to keep that position with an 80 minutes of physicality and hard work. Jake Fletcher came back into the 2nd row after injury, Will Welsh after 2 weeks off was on the bench alongside Tom Kane making his 1st XV bow for the season.
Ashford, as they have done all season started well with their superiority up front being seen early on in the set piece. This resulted in a scrum on the Aylesford 10 metre line which not for the first time this season was pushed over leaving Dan Brown to score his 5th try of the season, this was converted by captain Rhys Fussell. Ashford continued to apply the pressure and were soon 2 tries up, when after a numbers of attacks close in from the forwards, Jake Fletcher was able to find a gap and get over the line, this was unconverted leaving Ashford 12 – 0 up after barely 15 minutes of play.
With such dominance in the first quarter Ashford should have put the game to bed by half time, what followed for the next 20 minutes was an exercise in ill-discipline and complacency. Ashford allowed Aylesford into their half and after numerous penalties Aylesford kicked 3 points to make it 12 – 3. A yellow card was then issued against Ashford for a late challenge, which in isolation seemed a little harsh but after the number of penalties conceded could hardly be argued with. Aylesford continued to apply the pressure and as half time approached they scored a converted try, 12 – 10 at half time.
Harsh words were exchanged at half time in the Ashford huddle, 2 substitutions were made in the pack with Paul Curry and Will Welsh entering the fray and it was hoped that the message to fire things up and cut out the stupidity would be heeded. Fortunately the Ashford side responded in fine style and played the best half of rugby for a couple of seasons at least. Early pressure resulted in Dan Brown scoring his second of the game with a flying leap to the try line, unfortunately in the immediate aftermath Ashford were again reduced to 14 men after a tussle with some of the Aylesford players.
This didn’t halt the flow and Jack Weaver who had an exceptional game scored one of the best solo tries ever scored at Kinney’s Field, picking up a kick return on his own 22 he scythed down the nearside touchline evading numerous tackles before accelerating past the despairing challenges to score a fine try. This was converted by Tom Hinckes and suddenly Ashford were 24 – 10 up. The pressure continued as Ashford had the bit between their teeth and as the Aylesford defence started to disintegrate Ben King popped up out wide to score his 2nd try of the season which was again converted. The scrum continued to be a superb attacking platform and after some cynical attempts to collapse it by Aylesford the referee had no choice but to award a penalty try.
The game finished with Man of the Match Weaver capitalising on a poor Aylesford scrum, and when the ball popped out he was on hand to accelerate away from the defence to score his second of the day. Final score 41 – 10.
The additions of Murray and King to the pack this season have made a significant difference not only to the performances but also just as importantly to the mentality of the Ashford forwards. With a backline that although ever changing looks to be improving, the centre partnership of Woolford and Hinckes is beginning to flourish and Saturdays hard running performance of Matt Richards in particular on the wing was a pleasant surprise. The Ashford side is creating competition for places which in turn leaves Head Coach Hall with some interesting selection choices for this weekend’s game against Gillingham Anchorians.
Hall was pleased with the performance remarking “It was a good result which was much needed at this crucial time of the season, we have long a journey ahead but the more performances we can deliver like this, the more capable we are of overcoming the challenges ahead”.