Under-strength Ashington XV beaten at Barnard Castle

A weakened Ashington RFC first XV suffered from several late cry-offs and went down to a 31-7 defeat in their opening league game of the season on Saturday.

The visitors did start the game strongly in playing down the hill.

Their forwards dominated the early exchanges and Chris Johnstone crashed over for an early try only for the referee to bring it back for a five-metre scrum.

Fortunately from the resulting set-piece Johnstone touched down with Justin Niblock adding the conversion for Ashington’s only try of the game.

Ash forwards continued to dominate with Goose, Newman, Watson and Rutherford all running strongly with the ball, but they played too much rugby in their own half instead of using the slope.

A great run by centre James Jones saw Ashington penalised three yards out for holding on when they seemed certain to score.

A quick tap penalty taken whilst the Ashington forwards were in a huddle saw Castle go the length of field to score an unconverted try.

Poor decision making and mistakes saw Ashington put themselves under further pressure and Barny added a penalty to take an 8-7 half-time lead.

Ash were under early pressure in the second half and good work by both Dawson and Merryweather prevented tries before Barny added a penalty to extend their lead to 11-7.

Ash continued to try and run the ball from their own half and had several opportunities to kick themselves out of defence before being penalised as they drove out of their own 22 for use of feet.

Barny kicked the penalty to give them a 14-7 lead on 50 minutes.

The home team added a well worked try four minutes later with a great line run from the right winger.

This was followed by a period of Ashington domination, and with the visiting forwards totally on top they seemed certain to score from a five-metre scrum only for the referee to penalise the front row.

This was one of a number of decisions that appeared to go against the Ash forwards.

The home side added two further tries as the Ashington forwards began to tire, giving a final score of 31-7 to a cock-a-hoop home side.

Credit should be given to all the lads who made the journey,despite heavy impact of late cry-offs.

The strong forward display gives Ashington something to build on for the rest of the season but they need to play in the right areas and cut out costly mistakes.