Ashington began 2015 with their first bonus point victory of the season as they overcame North Shields.
Both sides fielded big packs and it looked like it was going to be a forward battle.
Ash put Shields under early pressure and debutant full-back Simon Barber scored after 13 minutes from an inside pass from fly-half Merryweather, converted by Elliott to give Ashington an early 7-0 lead.
Good pressure by scrum-half Nichol won the home side a scrum and from a great drive they were awarded a penalty which they kicked for touch when they could have gone for goal. They lost the lineout and North Shields were able to clear.
The visitors then had a period of sustained pressure but Ash managed to pinch the ball at a five-metre ruck and centre Nick Wood kicked clear.
Ashington then stole the lineout and great runs by Barber and centre Nathan Whitworth should have extended their lead, but from a resulting scrum Ash were awarded a penalty try converted by Elliott.
Missed tackles allowed Shields back into game and they scored a soft try.
Shields then had a period of sustained pressure but good defence enabled Ashington to hold out until half-time.
The home side started the second half strongly with Whitworth and Barber again combining to put them into an attacking position, but they were unable to turn it into points.
Fifteen minutes into the second half Shields took a quick penalty and the resultant pressure saw them cross for a second unconverted try to bring the score to 14-10.
This seemed to spur Ashington on and great runs by Whitworth, who had an excellent game, and Ben Butler saw John Goose crash over from three metres for a try converted by Elliott.
This score extended the home side’s lead to 21-10 midway through the second half.
From the restart a good 40-metre clearance from winger Ryan Dodds put Ashington into another strong position. Great forward play by Newman, Rutherford and Higham saw Rosser lose the ball in contact five metres out. Groves also put in barnstorming runs as Ash began to dominate.
Ash continued to have most of the play in the closing stages and flanker Chris Johnstone crashed over for a try near the posts from a Barber pop pass. Elliott hit the post with the conversion to give a final score of 26-10 to Ashington.
This was by far Ashington’s best performance of the season and the addition of the experienced Barber at full-back seemed to give the backs a lot more confidence.
Ashington seconds lost narrowly at Gateshead.
Next week Ashington first team are away to Bishop Auckland.