Ashford 10 – Park House 22
On a wet, miserable day at Kinney’s Field, Ashford looked to start 2017 in a positive fashion against one of the lower placed teams in the league, Park House had comfortably beaten Ashford earlier in the season but it was hoped the Ashford side would put up a much more positive performance.
They started well with a well-executed kick off which resulted in a clean won lineout and some early pressure on the away sides 22 metre line. A scrum 5 metres out looked like yielding an early score as the Ashford pack looked to shove their opposition over, but in the end a pick and go was required and Dan Sherrin eventually dived over for an early lead. From the resulting kick off, Park House made their intentions clear as they kept the ball tight in their forwards, using pick and drives continuously. Ashford were resolute though and not allowing the opposition to make many inroads, turned over ball was moved to one of the forwards who in turn got isolated and conceded a penalty. Park House kicked for the corner hoping to utilise their effective catch and drive game but Ashford held out. A poor lineout call gave the ball back to Park House and they eventually scored an unconverted try after 19 minutes. A penalty kick followed on 26 minutes, the remainder of the half was fairly scrappy with neither side looking particularly threatening.
Half time was a chance to remind the Ashford side that it was only 5 – 8 and that they should be positive in attitude and in the way they play. Dan Brown and Shane Redman entered the fray and an early score was hoped for by the local crowd.
The next 30 minutes saw most of the rugby being played by Park House as Ashford struggled to retain possession, making numerous errors compounded by some poor decision making. Park House showed their experience and superior will as they scored 2 quick fire tries both from Ashford mistakes which they converted taking the score to 5 – 22 and effectively putting them out of sight.
As expected Ashford rallied as they have done all season and scored a late consolation try through Dan Brown but couldn’t bridge the gap any further and so walked away with no points from an eminently winnable game.
Ultimately the lack of experience in the Ashford side once showed through and so whilst it was a disappointing result and theirs certainly a lot to work on, not least the fitness of the squad, this is mitigated by the fact that young players are learning tough lessons now which no doubt will make them stronger characters and better players in the long term.