1st XV Bec OBs 8 – 22 Ashford
Following a very successful November with four away wins on the trot, Ashford travelled to South West London for their game with Bec Old Boys, the prize on offer a quarter final tie in the London and South East Division of the RFU Vase trophy. The weather was dry, the pitch firm, and both sides were intent on progressing to the next round.
Ashford captain Rhys Fussell won the toss and chose to play uphill in the first half. Bec sensed that they would need to establish a good lead by half time and created all the early pressure, testing out the visitors’ resolve. They were given an early reward when Ashford Captain Rhys Fussell conceded a penalty for killing the ball in the visitors’ 22, providing a simple opportunity to establish a 3-0 lead. A minute later, Fussell was again in the wars, sustaining a leg injury that forced his withdrawal. His place at scrum half was filled by winger Steve Tanner.
It took Ashford about ten minutes to break out of their own half, when a drive by Dan Brown supported by Tanner and fullback Chris Baker took Ashford to within inches of the Bec line, and their fullback was pressured into conceding a penalty that led to his being yellow carded. Tanner’s penalty kick rebounded off the upright and was cleared by the home defence. Despite the man advantage, Ashford were not able to translate this into points, and it was only after the Bec fullback returned that Ashford opened their account when Steve Tanner landed a 30 yard penalty, again following a Bec infringement. Ashford widened their lead two minutes later, when a break from Brown created an opening for fullback Chris Baker whose pass to Farai Myezwa led to the first try of the day. Tanner’s conversion gave Ashford a 10-3 lead that they took into half time.
Playing uphill and trailing by seven points, Bec seemed to realise the need to set the second half agenda. They put together a period of sustained period of pressure, with nineteen phases of play that led eventually to their scoring an unconverted try. Ashford’s response was to work their way downfield and create pressure on the home side’s defence. This culminated in hooker Tom Kane stripping the ball from the Bec defence in their 22, and feeding centre Charlie Colman who ran in a short range try. Steve Tanner’s conversion extended Ashford’s lead to 17- 8 after 55 minutes. The following ten minutes were very scrappy but Ashford had the advantage in the scrum, and moved play deep into the Bec 22. They forced a five metre scrum from which Dan Brown was able to round off a good drive from the pack, and extend the lead to 22-8.
Bec refused to lie down and for the concluding fifteen minutes put pressure on the Ashford defence which proved resolute in defending their lead. The final whistle was a welcome end to what had been a lively and testing cup tie in which Ashford whilst not at their best did enough to justify their win. The early loss of captain Rhys Fussell upset their rhythm but the team again showed its new-found resolve to secure the win. Champagne rugby it certainly wasn’t but sometimes it’s enough just to win games.
The team now goes into the draw for the quarter finals which will be played in the New Year, but in the short term the focus changes to two pre-Christmas league games, this Saturday against HSBC who currently prop up the league and the following weekend against second placed Cranbrook, when the team will be keen to redress the early season defeat they suffered at their hands.