Ashford 12 – Gillingham Anchorians 29
On a warm and sunny day at Kinney’s Field it felt like Spring was on its way and Ashford started brightly in what really was a must win if they were to have any hopes of survival. The Ashford pack once again dominated the scrum with Ben King and Craig Coggle doing a fine job and Chris English threw in well at the lineout which meant Ashford were winning consistent set piece. As had been the way recently, the lack of precision in the handling meant a number of try scoring chances went begging and so Anchorians were allowed to get a foothold in the game. Some wayward kicking allowed their young full back to make some exciting breaks and with their number 8 in particularly making some strong runs their pressure resulted in a number of penalties which eventually were converted into 3 points.
Ashford bounced back and with further set piece pressure Jack Weaver saw space and scampered over for a try which was well converted by Steve Tanner who put in a Man of the Match performance. Ashford were moving the ball well, exploiting the space and playing some really good rugby but they switched off after scoring and conceded a soft try going in at the break down 7 – 10.
Injuries forced changes at half time meaning a bit of a reshuffle but Ashford came out brightly in the 2nd half but were unable to win favour with the referee and on numerous occasions saw penalties and decisions go against them. This eventually resulted in a couple of yellow cards and with the home side down to 13 players Anchorians scored quickly to take the game away from Ashford and despite a consolation try from Tom Hinckes the result was confirmed with one final Anchorians try, final score Ashford 12 Gillingham 29.
This was once again a story of good set piece work, missed opportunities and a team understandably low on confidence. With 5 games of the season left, Ashford aren’t mathematically out of it but it would require something extraordinary to see Ashford remain in this league for next season.