In truth this was a match that Ashford should have put to bed in the first half when they had the not insubstantial slope, plenty of possession and a dominant set piece. That they didn’t finish Old Gravesendians off earlier was a mixture of some simple mistakes and the resilience of the home side .
For the 2nd weekend in a row Ashford started very brightly and within 4 minutes scored the try of the day as they worked the ball off a lineout into the midfield where Andy Ticehurst carried hard. His offload to Dan “Shezzer” Sherrin was timed to perfection and Shezzer powered through before seeing Captain Fussell on his outside, a quick pop pass and the skipper was scoring in the corner.
Ashford were dominating everything in this first half and when Old G’s did get some territory they were continually repelled by a fast and aggressive line led by Tom Kane, Lewis Remington and Charlie Norman who put in some huge hits throughout the game. A second try was again a joy to behold as Ashford moved the ball wide to Farai Myezwa who showed his opposite number a clean pair of heals before finding Chris Baker back on the inside to score, this was converted by Steve Tanner.
The game changed when the referee showed a red card to the home sides centre, although this at first appeared to be harsh it was confirmed that some over zealous footwork hadn’t avoided the eagle eyed referee and so on balance it seemed like the right decision. It was to the home sides huge credit that this really didn’t affect their game and as all too often in these situations they probably played better as a 14 than a 15.
Ashford finished the half with an easy 2nd try for Fussell after a huge scrum from the Ashford pack, where they drove the home side clean off their own ball, Half time 0 – 19.
With Old G’s having the slope in the 2nd half they showed their hand early on by kicking repeatedly to the corner and trying to catch drive over the try line. They eventually span the ball wide and scored a well-earned try which was unconverted.
Ashford were now under the pump and giving away some needless penalties, eventually the referee yellow carded Andy Ticehurst for a team offence and not long after the home team scored again and it was certainly game on!
With Ashford’s watching supporters starting to get slightly nervous, it was fortuitous that Old G’s kicked to the fastest man on the pitch. Farai Myezwa received the ball on the half way line and raced through a weak defence to gas way from everyone to score under the posts, Tanner again converted.
Old Gravesendians weren’t done yet and once again used the corner and their catch and drive to score a final try in the 79th minute but by this point Ashford had the gap and bonus point win they needed.
2 away wins on the bounce isn’t necessarily a complete resurgence but there are signs that this largely young side are really starting to gel as a team. They are working hard at training and for each other on Saturday and with some of the more experienced heads leading by example, this Ashford side are going in the right direction, the message from coach Dengate and players alike is “now we build”
Ashford are again away this coming weekend as they travel to Old Midwhitgiftians in the 2nd round of the Junior Vase.