A new look Ashington, with new head coach John Goose in charge, made their best start to the season for several years by beating local rivals Blyth in the first round of the Northumberland County Cup.
Ash played an excellent brand of running rugby and ran in four first half tries.
Assistant player coach Iain Menzies crossed for two in the first 15 minutes, Chris ‘Jonta’ Johnson added a third after 25 minutes, bouncing of a couple of tackles, and fly-half Stuart Rosser scored a fourth just before half-time. Full-back Andrew Elliott, who had an excellent game, added three conversions.
Blyth used their stronger pack to keep in touch, scoring two converted first-half tries.
Scrum-half Dan Patterson taking advantage of their forwards’ strength to score the first with a sniping break from close quarters.
Fly-half Michael O’Neil, who kicked well throughout the game, added a penalty and two conversions, to make the score 26-17 at half-time.
Ash failed to finish a number of second-half chances, despite excellent runs from wingers Cory Whitworth and Josh Weekes.
Weekes, who had his best game in an Ash shirt, eventually scored a deserved try, crossing in the corner after a clattering tackle from debutant centre John Tuck.
Tuck and fellow centre Mitchel Brown looked a strong pairing, both tackled well and looked powerful with the ball in hand and can be proud of their first team debuts.
Blyth scored a late try wide out with six minutes to go, the conversion by O’Neil setting up what could have been a nail biting finish, but Ash comfortably held on for a deserved win.
This week sees the start of the new league season with Ash away to Whitby. Training is on Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm.