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MATCH REPORT Ashton 22-34 Orrell
Monday 6th March 2017 @ 10:17 by Mark Phillip

Ashton  22 -34 Orrell

Ashton have had a rocky couple of years following two successive Lancashire Bowl wins in 2014 and 2015 and are still struggling to record their first win this season, but that hardly compares with decline at Saturday’s visitors Orrell. 20 years ago they were playing in the very top tier of English rugby, and if anybody had suggested then that they might one day have been playing a league fixture at Ashton, their sanity might well have been questioned.

However, that certainly is now the situation and although the home side were unable to come out of the game with that elusive victory they were in no way overawed by their visitors’ illustrious pedigree, and apart from a short lapse in the second half they competed well, with the pack prominent throughout.

Orrell took an early lead, but Ashton came back well, forging their way upfield into opposition territory and they were rewarded when veteran Number 8 Eddie Walmsley picked up at the back of a ruck and drove forward. Impetus was maintained and the ball was then spread quickly left for  Kevin Callan to cross in the corner with Tom Costello adding the goal points to put them in the lead.

Unfortunately Walmsley was then forced to leave the field with a hamstring problem to be replaced by another returning veteran in the shape of Rob Bishop. There was no drop in the home side’s work rate, but the Wiganers were still looking good with ball in hand, and they grabbed two converted tries before Costello cut the arrears with a penalty late in the first half.

The second half saw Ashton well on top for the first quarter hour and they mounted a series of raids on the opposition line. Orrell conceded a string of penalties but they managed to hold out and the home side finally settled for the goal kick which Costello converted.

The visitors responded by running the ball through the centre but Ashton’s defence stayed firm until they conceded a penalty. This was missed, but from the drop out they ran the ball along the left wing for a try out on the left. The conversion attempt hit the post, but the home side were immediately caught napping again from the restart, when an identical break along the touchline resulted in a converted try.

Two tries conceded in two minutes could have seen some dropped heads, but there were none. The home side picked up the momentum again and spent the latter stages of the game on attack, forcing successive five metre scrums and gaining a deserved award when the pack drove over the line for skipper Chris Grayson to get the final touchdown which Costello converted.


By Ian Crickett