Depleted Ashington make a fight of it in defeat at Bishop Auckland
Bishop Auckland 31Ashington RFC 17A much changed Ashington, suffering from late withdrawals, put in a display full of drive, effort and commitment and it was only in the last 10 minutes that the home side were able to pull ahead, writes Paul Tanney.
Both Connor Nichol and Cory Whitworth did some excellent defensive work before a raking 50m kick from wing Josh Bell, who had an excellent game, set up an attacking lineout. A Rich Harmer take, the first of many in a dominant lineout performance, saw skipper Greg Henderson drive over to give Ash a 0-5 lead after 21 minutes.
A strong Paul Howie run from the kick off was followed shortly by some good linking by Merryweather, Parsons and Weekes before Bishop took the lead after a period of pressure with a converted try. The home side finished the first half strongly and added 2 further tries to give them a 19-5 lead as Ash struggled to cope with the scything runs from the home centre.
Coach Hayton brought on Mitchell Brown at half time and reshuffled the front row.
Brown had an immediate impact with a barging run that set up a penalty which Parsons, who kicked well from hand throughout, placed on the 5m line. Another Harmer lineout take saw Brown drive over for his first of 2 second half tries, Parsons adding the conversion.
A couple of Paul Howie strikes “against the head” set up good attacking positions as Ash piled on the pressure and were unlucky to have a Connor Nichol try disallowed after an excellent Parsons break, the referee deciding not to play advantage from a Bishop knock on.
Both Nichol and Whitworth had good attacking runs before the Ash pressure finally told and another Harmer lineout take saw Brown crash over for his second try to set up a 19-17 score with 15 minutes left.
From the kick off, veteran former first team skipper Newman drove out of defence before Bishop extended their lead with 2 late tries to give them a 31-17 victory.
It was difficult to pick an Ash man of the match. Newman on his first game in the 1sts in two years, Bell and Parsons in defence, Nichol at scrum half, and Harmer was dominant in the lineout, but the award went to Tom Clarke for his all action back row performance.
This week Ashington are at home to Darlington KO 3pm.