MATCH REPORT Luckless Ashton suffer fifth consecutive defeat
Monday 13th November 2017 @ 10:30 by Mark Phillip

Ashton 13-18 North Manchester

In spite of defeat at the end, Ashton looked the better team for much of this game, and again it seemed that there might well be something to build on for the future.

They took play right up to their opponents from the outset and were soon in front with a Josh Pattison penalty after they had turned over possession and found it killed by irregularities at the loose scrum. They then disrupted immediate North Manchester possession, and were awarded a penalty which found touch and should have meant that they’d cleared their lines. Unfortunately the ball into the line out wasn’t straight and when a visiting back row man broke from the back of the ensuing scrum the defence was found lacking and a converted try put them behind.

However they mounted a superb comeback, keeping the ball on the move as they took play forward. A disputed forward pass seemed to have stopped their momentum, but they forced the visiting pack off their own ball at the set scrum, and after individual forward drives saw Si Blomeley held up inches short, the ball was sent quickly out wide for a for a try for young wingman Jae Manwaring.

A seemingly kickable penalty was then turned down as they kept up the pressure, but when North broke away just before half time it was Ashton’s turn to concede a penalty, and this was kicked to put the visitors two points in front at half time.

The second half opened with Ashton still playing with a lot of confidence, more than matching the opposition in every aspect of play. A great break through the centre by Joel Pearson saw support there in numbers and when the ball was spread wide again the move was finished off with a try for another young winger, Alex Meredith.

The Gambrel Bank men were in front again, but when they conceded another penalty in their own half, North’s goal kicker gratefully accepted the chance of the three points, and he drew his side level again.

Ashton then seemed to incur the displeasure of the referee for a considerable time, with some of this coming from dissent, which put them under constant unnecessary pressure. It has to be said however that when this eventually led to a try in the corner for the visitors, the majority of the touchline thought there was a clear knock on in the build up.

As the game entered its latter stages, it still seemed there to be won, but there was to be no final breakthrough, although a bizarre finish could well have led to an Ashton score. With the visitors in possession in their own 22 metre area, all they had to do was kick it in touch to end the game, but the sliced kick went backwards toward their own line and they were penalised for attempting to knock it back over the dead ball line.

The home side kept possession as they switched the ball the full width of the field, where they were awarded a five metre scrum, but sadly this was to bring no final reward.

By Ian Crickett