Sittingbourne sit bottom of the league and Ashford are currently the form side in Kent 1 so the squad and supporters made the short trip away expecting to win and win well. In summary they did win comfortably but there was obvious frustration at the error count and lack of composure shown by too many players when more points could and should have been scored.
Ashford handed a debut to youngster Will Blyth who started on the wing and also a place on the bench to Sujit Gurung and both guys gave a good account of themselves when given the chance.
Ashford started well and some excellent hands from Lewis Remington and Nathan Wood released the ever dangerous Chris Baker to accelerate away from half way line and score under the posts, this was easily converted by Tanner. A moment of madness then followed as the home side who seemingly were more interested in foul play as opposed to playing rugby started throwing punches wildly, a melee ensued and quite rightly the player was shown a red card after 6 minutes of the game.
Ashford turned the screw and built the scoreboard as Tanner converted 2 comfortable penalty kicks followed by a well worked backs move which Man of the Match Nathan Wood finished off well, Tanner again converted. 23 minutes gone and 20 – 0 up.
Complacency and errors ensued for the second quarter, a poor defensive error allowed Sittingbourne to score a well-earned try and 14 man Sittingbourne at this point were really playing some nice rugby. Ashford regained some composure before half time when Captain Rhys Fussell dummied and then sniped round the breakdown to score, this was converted, half time 27 – 5.
The away side came out the blocks fast in the 2nd half and were pretty much camped on the Ashford line for the first 15 minutes. The Ashford defence was certainly creaking but with Callum Stuckey once again leading the defensive effort with some huge hits they held strong and slowly started to get their hold back on the game.
In the space of the next 9 minutes Ashford put the game beyond doubt with 3 good tries, two from substitute Shane Redman who made a big impact off the bench and another for Baker. Tanner converted 2 of the 3 and Ashford were 46 – 5 to the good. Dengate rung the final changes which probably disrupted the flow somewhat but it was a good chance to see players in different positions and when the final whistle went Ashford had secured their 9th win in a row.
The score line was good but the performance lacked in places, there was a lack of killer instinct and composure in the pack who couldn’t really enforce their clear dominance and the backline lacked crispness in their handling and robustness in the tackle. Certainly the boys will have to up their game considerably over the coming weeks as they have important league games ahead, the Kent Vase and of course this weekend the Quarter Finals of the National Junior Vase against Royston.