1st team rugby returned to Kinney’s field on Saturday after the festive break and Ashford were hosting league leaders Beccehamians who up and until now hadn’t lost a game all season, “until now” being the key words! Ashford were rightly humbled earlier in the season against these guys at their place by 50 odd points but having won 7 on the bounce were quietly confident of turning the tables.
Beccs started strongly as expected and moved the ball well with their backline looking as elusive as ever although Ashford probably gave them too much respect and sat off a number of tackles. Still this early pressure from the away side yielded an early score as their full back fielded a poor exit kick and cut through some weak tackling to score a smart individual try which was converted. So 7 minutes gone and 7 points down!
Ashford started to play some better rugby with the pack beginning to dominate in the tight and the lineout going particularly well, this allied to plenty of endeavour from the back row led by Man of the Match Callum Stuckey meant Ashford were starting to have things more and more their own way.
Beccs were visibly shocked by being on the back foot and started to commit penalty after penalty which eventually led to Steve Tanner having the chance to slot his first 3 points of the game, and just before half time another 3 from Tanner meant at the interval there was just a point in it.
Well chosen words from Head Coach Chris Dengate and skipper Rhys Fussell at the break meant Ashford started the second half with the bit between their teeth as they marched into the opposition half from the off.
It will tell you everything about the Ashford dominance in the second half when you understand that they didn’t let the away side into their 22 once in the second half. The pressure was constant and supported by an excellent crowd it was clear the Ashford boys were rising to the challenge, the earlier introduction of Tom Kane had sharpened up the defence and with mounting pressure on the Beccs half backs mistakes came which Ashford seized upon.
A smart move from Stuckey to Fussell put Farai Myezwa into space but a last ditch tackle prevent him scoring. Ashford continued to apply the pressure but a few cases of white line fever prevented them scoring and with 10 minutes left Beccs were still leading the game, remarkably!! A huge hit from Myezwa followed by a barrage of bone crunching tackles from Perkins, Sherrin and Redman roused the crowd once more and this injection lifted the Ashford boys for one last onslaught.
With 4 minutes left a well worked backs move saw the smooth running Chris Baker receive the ball and finish expertly to score a fantastic try, leaving the players and crowd in raptures, Tanner of course converted and Ashford saw out the remainder of the game for a huge victory.
Ashford move up to 5th in the league and are away to Sittingbourne this Saturday in the league as they look to try and keep the momentum going.