Sheppey 30 – Ashford 19
Too little too late is pretty much all anyone needs to know about Ashford’s performance on Saturday away to Sheppey.
A notoriously hard place to go to and one which many of this young squad had never played at as senior players was always going to be tricky, but a first half of feeble defence and lack of passion meant Ashford had pretty much lost all hope of a win at half time.
The conditions for the first time ever at Sheppey were mild and dry with the pitch in great condition, and Ashford started well building phase after phase and dominating the early set piece. However this early pressure failed to yield the required points and it was Sheppey playing with the slope who used their large pack of forwards to attack the Ashford pack and score the first points with a converted try. From this moment forward the remainder of the first half was Sheppey pressure with their Number 8 and Hooker in particular making large inroads as they continued with their close quarters barrage. This was classic Sheppey stuff and unfortunately the Ashford pack in particular just weren’t up for the fight. Two more tries and a penalty from Sheppey meant at half time Ashford were 20 points down, and the first 5 minutes aside had never looked like threatening the oppositions line.
Some harsh words were delivered at half time borne out of frustration more than anything as this wasn’t about playing ability but mental application and desire.
Ashford as expected woke up and in the 2nd half played some solid rugby, a penalty try was perhaps a touch fortunate but given Jack Weavers ability to score from anywhere probably fair, Charlie Colman converted and Ashford were on the scoreboard. A soft penalty was conceded and subsequently converted by Sheppey stretching the score to 23 – 7 making the Ashford task that much harder. Ashford’s best spell of the game followed as they attacked through the pack with Danny Leech and Andy Ticehurst standing out, they entered the Sheppey 22 and moved the ball slickly through the hands for Charlie Colman to score out wide, this was unfortunately unconverted.
Sheppey like Ashford never roll over and they came back with force, Ashford again gave away a stupid penalty at the Scrum and Sheppey moved the ball well to score out wide which was excellently converted. With time running out the outstanding Nathan Wood made a great break and scythed through the middle of the pitch evaded a challenge better suited to an 11 aside game and scored under the posts, he converted his own try and Ashford had a chance of a bonus point. They again attacked but a spilled ball, 5 metres from Sheppey’s line drew the final whistle and Ashford could have no complaints about the result.
Stand out performances were few and far between and whilst some players showed plenty more character in the 2nd half, there a number who seemed to lack the required mental fortitude needed when you’re trying to rise up the league. Mention must go to Mason Pilcher making his 1st team debut and Tom Kane who played with aggression, passion and were credits to themselves and their club. Some of the more experienced players could certainly take note of their approach as they review their own performances.
This weekend sees Ashford make the short trip to local rivals Folkestone, the return of a number of key players is certainly welcomed not least Captain Rhys Fussell who will be sure to ready his troops for what is always a combative affair.