FOLLOWING on from a disappointing campaign in Durham and Northumberland 1 last season, which ended in relegation, Ashington RFC began their pre-season fixtures against Seghill.
All present at the Recreation Ground were keen to see if the golden lion on the Ashington crest had finished licking last season’s wounds and was ready to roar once more.
The game was played in 20-minute quarters to allow coaches to rotate the large squads each had at their disposal.
Newly appointed Ashington head coach Stuart Rosser picked a strong starting line-up which proved its eagerness to impress with two tries in the first quarter.
A much changed side took to the field for the second quarter and, not wanting to be outdone by their predecessors, also scored a brace, leaving the home side four tries up at half-time.
A similar performance in the second half saw a further four tries added, giving a full-time score of 40-0 as no conversions were taken.
Following a season which produced more defeats than victories, including a rather heavy try count against, it was fantastic for Ashington to get back into a winning frame of mind, with plenty of open attractive rugby.
Equally as impressive as the tries scored was the clean sheet; demonstrating the value of all the training drills on defensive patterns in recent weeks.
Although victims of a heavy onslaught, Seghill should not feel there is nothing to be taken from this game.
Their direct running in attack deserves credit and with a large, powerful back line, they will cause problems for other teams provided they can improve on their defensive organisation.
Whilst a victory is always a good thing, there are without doubt areas of Ashington’s game which will need to be improved before they open their league campaign against Barnard Castle at the Rec on September 1.
The penalty count will have to be reduced as will the statistics for knock-ons and forward passes; simple handling skills which coach Rosser will inevitably be looking to work on in the coming weeks.
The last time Ashington were in Durham and Northumberland 2 they went the full season undefeated, and the bench mark for the current squad must be to emulate those feats.
An indicator of their ability to do so will come on Saturday as they face Blyth RFC, the current holders of Durham and Northumberland 2, in their next pre-season fixture.
The game is at Blyth, with North Berwick RFC making the drive down from the Scottish borders to create a round-robin of matches.
Following next week’s games, the Ashington squad will be partying hard, and hopefully celebrating another victory, at the annual Ashington RFC Rec Fest music weekend.