Ashford entered Saturday’s game against Vigo equal on points to their opponents whose superior points difference, fifty of which had been secured in the previous meeting between the two sides, meant they occupied second place in the league. The game provided Ashford, confident following their run of twelve games undefeated since that defeat, with the opportunity to swap places.
In the first quarter, the game was end to end. Ashford showed up well, with their pack getting an edge over the visitors, and gaining a lead courtesy of two good tries to one. The first was created after five minutes by winger Steve Tanner who beat his opposite number on the outside, chipped the ball over the Vigo fullback and won the chase to collect the ball and score. His conversion secured an early 7-0 lead. Vigo dominated the following ten minutes, squandering one penalty opportunity before taking a quick tap from a second and attacking a disorganised defence to secure a try and conversion that levelled the game. Ashford restored their lead three minutes later following a series of forward drives and a blindside break that was rounded off with stand off Aaron Bowes scoring in the corner for a 12-7 lead.
The second quarter belonged to Vigo, who dominated field position and forced Ashford to concede two penalties that gave them a slender one point lead at half time. This was added to in the third quarter, with an early try and a further two penalties that extended their lead to 26-12 on the hour.
The last quarter saw an Ashford revival although they had to work hard to get out of their own half of the field courtesy of Vigo’s aggressive defensive work. In the last ten minutes of the game, Ashford finally managed to work their way into the Vigo half and a series of scrums provided an opportunity for substitute No. 8 Dan Brown to crash over for an unconverted try, and reduce the lead to nine points. Ashford had enough time to make one more drive into the Vigo half, and a penalty awarded in the last minute allowed Steve Tanner a final opportunity to secure three points that reduced the leeway to six points and provided Ashford with the consolation of a losing bonus point, going down by 26-20.
Against good opponents, Ashford came up short in a number of areas. Their lineout did not work well, indiscipline led to conceding too many penalties, and the team tried to play too much running rugby in their own half of the field. The scrum worked well but was not used to as much advantage as it could have been. The following two weeks will provide opportunities to address these issues, with a National Vase Area Semi Final tie against Chipstead on Saturday before returning to league duties against Gillingham Anchorians the following weekend.