Plenty of sprit and determination but Ashington still lose
A number of injuries forced Ashington to reshuffle their back line at North Shields on Saturday, with Owen Jarvis making his seasonal debut at fly-half.
The visitors started strongly but soon found themselves under pressure and were 3-0 down after five minutes from a well struck North Shields penalty.
The bigger Shields forwards had the edge in the scrums and lineouts, Ashington kicking away too much of the possession they had.
Good defence saw them hold out until the half hour when Shields extended their lead to 10-0 with a deserved converted try.
Just before half-time Ashington lost their biggest forward, Harrigan, to injury. He was replaced by the experienced Dickenson, who brought some aggression and focus to the reshuffled pack.
The visitors had a period of sustained pressure at the start of the second half and winger Josh Weekes powered over for a well taken try in the corner from a blind-side move. Jarvis missed the wide out conversion and a penalty shortly afterwards but kicked a straight forward penalty to make the score 10-8, with Ashington now playing good running rugby.
Shields forwards forced their way back into the game and only a great defensive tackle prevented a certain try.
Ashington were penalised from the resulting lineout and Shields took a quick tap penalty to score a converted try, giving them a 17-8 lead.
Dickinson was then driven over by the Ashington forwards from a five-metre lineout for an Ashington try and wingers Weekes and Whitworth both had good runs during a period of flowing rugby.
Shields added a late penalty and final try on the stroke of full-time to deny Ashington a losing bonus point and give the home side a slightly flattering 24-13 victory.
Ashington showed plenty of spirit and determination and continue to improve on last year but need to learn to play to their strengths.
On Saturday they are home to Bishop Auckland, kick-off 3pm.