Redcar Come Close But Ashington Take The Points
By Dave Pearson
After last weeks dominant performance Redcar should have travelled full of confidence but instead they seemed stuck on the A1 for the first 15mins.
With a late call off from Jake Duddles who couldn’t shake off an injury sustained at training on Thursday, the backs were reshuffled with Kieron Mcmahon starting at 10, Jamie Butler started on the wing and Dennis Hunt returning to his favoured inside centre role. We have had various exchange referees but never a foreign exchange, Alex from Espana was our referee who took charge of proceedings, but in all honesty I think his limited English hindered him managing what was a very scrappy game.
With both teams trying their best to lose this one, it was Ashington that started the strongest, their plan A, which involved forwards coming round the corner again and again charging at a lacklustre Redcar defence. It finally paid off with a series of missed tackles in the backs for the Ash winger to run in the corner, conversion missed. The try seemed to wake the players up, but unlike the previous week the Redcar backline struggled to make the ball stick with a series of dropped balls in crucial positions. Ashingtons dominance in the scrum got them on the front foot and once again their backline seemed to glide in to score out wide without much resistance, the conversion was missed 10 - 0.
Redcar began to build phases, something that had most definitely been missing and with scrumhalf Brad Stovell and flyhalf Kieron Mcmahon linking well they began to threaten Ashington. A series of penalties moved Redcar down the field but Brad Stovell’s quick thinking wasn’t rewarded when tackled by a number of players who were not 10m, only for the referee to play on, this wouldn’t be the first time and late in the game again it proved decisive, with seconds left on the clock at the end of the game.
Redcar did not let this upset their spell of dominance and some strong running from back rows Dominic Ayre, James Toward and Steve Johnson made dents into the Ash defence, as Redcar moved closer towards the line Neil Young found himself in a similar position to the week before and didn’t disappoint with another pick and go through the middle of the ruck, to score, fullback Daniel Addison converting 7-10. Unfortunately the hero became the villain almost immediately as Young was caught in possession and adjudged to hold a player back from a possible turnover.
Redcar lost momentum but with that so did the game, it was a scrappy affair for the following 15 mins in which both sides gave up possession and made mistakes far too easily. Ashington were on the scoresheet just before half time with a trademark 8,9,15 move, with scrum dominance they managed to remove the Redcar backrow and ran in once again with very little deterrent, the conversion was missed.
Half Time 15 - 7
Redcar made a few changes for the second half with Steve Bryce replacing Steve Sill in the front row and Kieron Mcmahon having to leave the field injured, he was replaced by Joe Cooke.
For the first ten minutes Ashington were camped in Redcar’s 22m but with little to no avail as a strong Redcar defence held them out, it would be wrong of me not to remark on several infringements by the Redcar pack that went unpunished and left Ash without a certain try. The game was very scrappy with neither side impressing, rucks were reminiscent of the 80’s with little to management and players off their feet spoiling at every opportunity.
Neil Young was replaced by Mark Harrison and with the added weight and experience of both Bryce and Harrison the scrums became more balanced. Redcar had further opportunities but spilled possession time and time again, the most frustrating part of the game was the amount of mistakes that gave Ashington possession back after first phase. Stand out player Dominic Ayre worked tirelessly and was the biggest thorn in Ashington’s side but even his go forward attitude couldn’t see Redcar over the line. The game remained scrappy and a few incidents were missed by the referee, none more so than a blatant stamp on the edge of a Redcar attacking ruck, which should have resulted in a straight red for the Ashington 10 (the only thing he kicked cleanly all day) and a chance of a kickable penalty for Redcar to claw back the difference.
Ashington attacked from deep and after a few phases found themselves nullified by a strong Redcar defence, it took something special to break the resistance and a well placed kick bounced into the Ashington’s wingers hand, who unbelievably dropped the ball forward but continued his momentum and placed the ball down, the referee gave the try as he was clearly unsighted, a quick glance over to the referees assessor who was shaking his head confirmed Redcar’s further upset, 20 - 7 the conversion was missed.
The frustrations of the Redcar players was evident in the way they attacked the final 10mins, forwards picked and found holes in the Ashington defence and after some excellent forward drives from Harrison and Bryce, Steve Johnson scored from close in, 20 -12 the conversion missed.
With 5 minutes remaining Redcar attacked, 5 penalties on the bounce moved them to in front of the posts another penalty was given, Redcar chose to go quick instead of kicking for posts and guaranteeing a losing bonus point, Ashington were not 10m and managed to spoil any chance of a revival, worse still, no losing bonus point.
Final Score Ashington 20 Redcar 12