ASHBOURNE RFC claimed a fine, narrow victory against a well-organised Notts Casuals team – a win all the more impressive given the fatigue within the squad post-Shrovetide.
There was a positive feeling among the Up’ard players in the squad, especially Tuesday scorer Dan Naylor, who was in the starting line up again.
The positive feel continued in early play with a nice team try finished off by Rob Farr in the left corner after six minutes as centres Adam Curley and Jimmy Carter ran neat lines to confuse Casuals defenders and gave Farr a gap and a scoring pass 15 metres out which he landed well. A long kick was missed by latest kicker Ed Worthington.
Casuals won a series of penalties, gained a good field position and scored their first try with the left winger given a decent gap to out-flank Ashbourne’s chasing defence. The hard conversion attempt was missed.
Ashbourne second try was a highly skilled link up between backs and forwards as players off-loaded during a 35-metre drive that was eventually finished off by flanker Steve Maznenko. Worthington’s long-range kick was hit true, putting the home side 12-5 up.
As the half closed, Casuals’ kicker found form and landed two long-range penalties to close Ashbourne’s lead to one point as they changed ends.
Captain Carter increased the lead with a superb line break to score under the posts, and with the conversion, the score went to 19-11
However then tackles became less intense and movement to breakdowns slowed down.
Casuals sniffed a chance and their battling was rewarded with a second try, and a long conversion put the gap back to one point with eight minutes left.
A very tired Ashbourne group needed to again take charge and they pushed Notts deep down the field with some intelligent kicking and then manned the defensive line with numbers.
ASHBOURNE: Clayton, Wright, Heath, Naylor, Greenway, S Maznenko, Broom, Lyon, M Maznenko, Smith, Halling, Curley, Carter, Farr, Worthington, Robinson, Ford, McKinlay
Ashbourne Under-14s were up against strong opposition in Lichfield on Sunday and came through this thorough examination with flying colours.
Building on their last two friendly wins, the home side brought more control into this contest, which was vital against well-drilled opponents.
The forwards always looked in control at the scrum and line out, whilst they also showed some controlled aggression around the contact area.
In the backs, a sunny, dry day made for excellent handling conditions, which they took full benefit of, showing their attacking flair throughout.
Captain Jack Bowers blasted through on several occasions, converting three breaks for a hat-trick of tries, while Charlie Hart showed great athleticism by muscling over for the fourth try.
Will Farr, who marshalled the game excellently, also had his kicking boots on, converting three of the tries and adding a penalty.
The final score did slightly flatter the home side, with only four points in it just after half time, but this young team shrugged off the excesses of Shrovetide and showed great resolve in digging deep for victory.
Ashbourne can now look forward to next week’s NLD Cup semi-final with high confidence.
ASHBOURNE: Monteith, Edge, Dawson, Hart, Wright, Mousley, Young, Beard, Shaw, Farr, Bowers (capt), Linnell, Mines, McHugh, Wainwright, Cooper, Sellers, Howson, Dowling, Edge, Dixon, Zona Bennett.
ASHBOURNE Under-13s put up a brave performance in the semi-final of the NLD Cup but lost to Newark.
They out-performed all expectations by qualifying for the main cup competition this year, putting them up against the top teams in the three counties.
The team then went on to win their group beating Scunthorpe, West Bridgford and Sleaford in some tough matches.
The semi-final match took place at Chesterfield in fantastic conditions, but started badly for Ashbourne with Newark scoring three early, demoralising tries.
Ashbourne fought back with lots of heart but first half opportunities were few and far between.
What was hugely impressive was the character shown by the team in the second half, with the match all but lost.
The players did not let their heads drop and managed to come back with three magnificent tries of their own.
Morgan Rowland, at number eight, was impressive all game and used his fantastic strength to power over the line, while Tom Wheeldon, the team’s most improved player of the season, used his speed out on the wing to score his try.
The final Ashbourne score came from Costandino Joannou, who has been prolific all season and deserved the reward of his surging run for the line and great try. All three tries were converted by Sam Jones.
ASHBOURNE: Bacon, Palmer-Clark, Hooley, Moore, Kelly, Bentley, Whitehouse, Rowland, Edwards, Bailey, Wheeldon, Jones, Joannou, Tretheway, Jones, Allen