Ashford 26 – Old Dunstonians 22
After having not won a league game in the last 3, Ashford were keen to get back to the season back on track as they began a group of 3 games in 4 weeks, which will prove to be critical for their season.
Ashford welcomed back Charlie Colman and Jack Weaver from injury and were also able to call upon the services of Shane Redman, Jake Fletcher, Aaron Bowes and Tommy Murray having been unavailable for the previous weeks fixture. With numerous injuries in the back line over the last few weeks Ashford were forced to play Andy Ticehurst in the centres and he had an excellent game showing his versatility and commitment to the cause. Old Dunstonians were always going to be a force to be reckoned with, and with some large units in the pack and a back three who were undoubtedly the quickest in the league, Ashford would need to play smart rugby to come out on top.
Still, despite the best intentions Ashford started slowly and their lack of focus allowed the opposition to score a soft early try which was unconverted. Not for the first time this was the wakeup call which was needed, Ashford played to their strengths as they punched hole after hole in the defence and with Jack Weaver pulling the strings expertly at 9 they forced their way into the Old D’s 22. Ashford, have this season been fairly clinical in these areas especially when keeping the ball tight and with Captain Dan Brown sniffing the try line the outcome was inevitable, he threw himself over to score and with Charlie Colman converting, Ashford were in front.
Ashford were playing well, sticking to the game plan and keeping the ball away from the away sides electric wingers, but notice was served when a momentary lapse of concentration allowed their left wing to escape the clutches of Macauly Jordan and run half length of the field in the blink of an eye to score, fortunately it was unconverted but Ashford were once again behind 7 – 10.
The game ebbed and flowed for the next 10 minutes before 2 excellent team tries from Ashford, the first scored by eventual MOM Dan Sherrin who had an outstanding game and then Craig Coggle scoring his first try since he was in the Under 10’s. With one of these converted by Colman whose kicking all game was excellent Ashford at half time were 19 – 10 up.
More than once this season Ashford have been up at half time and conceded first in the 2nd half, and so the pattern continued as Dunstonians showed their determination and class to move within 4 points. An Ashford yellow card could have proved decisive but Ashford weathered the inevitable storm and once restored to full complement started to play with some real tempo and show they are far more than just a strong pack of forwards. Aaron Bowes was once again unflappable, and with more game time his ability to dictate play and exert influence on the game will no doubt continue to improve. It was a moment of excellent vision from Bowes whose weighted chip evaded the poor opposition winger who was certainly better going forward than backwards, that led to Charlie Colman gathering the ball and scooting over for the match winning try which he duly converted.
Determined to the keep the supporters and coaches blood pressure high, Ashford had 3 minutes left and conceded a number of penalties allowing Old Dunstonians to score a try in time added on, which they converted and gave them 2 bonus points.
This is a young Ashford side and at times their lack of experience and composure is evident, but each game the squad learn more about themselves ,and whilst there are still plenty of areas to improve the desire to learn from their mistakes and learn fast is encouraging. A bonus point win against good opposition was an excellent result and thoroughly well deserved, with the hopeful return of more players from injury over the coming weeks the signs look promising. The application of all will be tested in the next few weeks and full commitment will be needed if Ashford are to continue moving up the league.