Canvey Island 7
Ashford played there 3rd pre-season fixture on Saturday, hosting Canvey Island who won promotion from their regional Essex league last season and are now technically in a league higher than Ashford. This ended in a good win for the home side and meant that Ashford are now 3 out 3 in terms of wins as they head into their final pre-season weekend with an away fixture to Whitstable.
The first half was actually dominated by Canvey Island who started very well, playing with great structure and moving the ball around nicely. The Canvey scrum which although lighter dominated the set piece and this quality possession allowed their fly half to run proceedings at his own leisure. That they led by only a solitary converted try was as much down to their inability to convert chances as it was a defensive effort from the home side as the half progressed.
Head Coach Dengate made some changes at half time and in particular the introductions of Callum Stuckey and Tom Kane seemed to add vibrancy and physicality to the Ashford pack. The welcome return of a number of a players to the club meant that the backline had a robustness which it’s maybe missed in recent seasons but also a decent amount of pace and style which bodes well for the season ahead. It was the pack which showed the way with first some great continuity showed in possession which allowed Kane to pick an excellent line through the defence and score which was easily converted by Captain Rhys Fussell who went on to convert all the tries.
Next up was a well-orchestrated catch and drive with Dan Brown dropping over to secure the 2nd try and lead inside 10 minutes of the 2nd half. Canvey to their credit continued to play good rugby and had their chances but their desire to play rugby led to mistakes and two wonderful pieces of open play attacking rugby, first Chris Baker who was imperious at 15 ghosted through and offloaded to Jack Weaver to score yet another pre-season try. Then it was the turn of another returning player Farai Myezwa to be given space and quick ball and from the half way he danced round 2 defenders and scorched through under the posts.
Ashford continued to push for more and the likes of Jake Cotton (yet another player returning to the club) and Andy Ticehurst were continually making inroads up front but Ashford were unable to convert the pressure into any more points.
This was a hard fought victory and with a number of players absent it showed how strong the squad is now becoming. With the influx of players returning either from other clubs or just longer absences from the game, in addition to the squad already in place, Ashford look to be in good shape for the coming season.