Photo courtesy of Neil Adams. Gallery courtesy of Wendy Cleave & Stephen Campion
Ashford RFC III XV (Mighty Thirds): 22
Tries: M.Stone, P.Wickens, D.Mills, D.Kellett Con: J.Mann
Ashford Barbarians: 19
Tries: A.Morris, S.Dale, B.King Con: J.Potter, A.Morris
Ashford Rugby Derby | Trevor Adams Memorial Shield
Both sides ran out to a fantastic show of support for the second Ashford Rugby Derby of the season.
Back in December Ashford’s Mighty Thirds successfully retained the Trevor Adams Memorial Shield with a 27-17 victory.
As with all Derbies the match started off with intensity and ferocity as both teams looked to stamp their authority on the field. An early penalty in front of the posts gave the Baa-Baas their first opportunity for points. Opting for the corner instead the visiting side looked to assert themselves in the set piece – but contest at the line-out denied them the early score.
The Barbarians soon found fortune after Ashford were penalised in their own half. A quickly taken tap penalty that looked to be heading to the forwards was whipped out wide to the back line. Inside Centre Dave Ward executed a textbook ‘draw & pass’ to his fellow Centre Andrew ‘Taff’ Morris. Morris silenced the vocal home crowd after beating his opposite number for pace and dotting down for the opening try. Fly-half Jason Potter rounded out the full 7 points with a touch line conversion.
“Crowd favourite, and the people’s man of the match”– Andrew Morris
…modestly referring to himself.
Momentum in the match soon shifted as Ashford pressed hard up the field. Holding the defensive line with solid tackling the Barbarians were unable to cause any disruption in the opposition’s phase play. Defending at the 5 metre line the defensive wall finally buckled as Forward Mickey Stone crashed over. The following conversion sailed wide and the Barbarians maintained a narrow 2 point lead.
Solid performances at the set piece and a succession of impressive breaks by Number 8 and Captain Ben King yielded territorial gains. But the Baa-Baas met a resilient opposition defence determined to deny them entry into their 22.
Replacements: Chris Weatherley on for Andy May at Flanker
“Christopher Rabjohns should get a shout out after making 3 tackles in as many seconds.” – Guy Booker
As the match See-Sawed again the Barbarians defensive skills and fitness were put to the test again. Another wave of pressure from the home side had the Baa-Baas exhaustively repelling each phase of attack metres from their goal line. Their fortitude finally rewarded after disrupting at the break down to bring a close to the first half.
Replacements: Frazer Campion on at Wing for Dave Ward, Nic Turley moved to Centre, Guy Booker on for Joe Adams at Second Row, Leigh Roberts on for Jason Potter at Fly-half.
After weathering the opposition’s first half assault the Barbarians started the second half with a 2 point lead. From the restart the Baa-Baas upped the tempo hoping to extend the narrow margin, continued pressure and solid phase play positioned the visiting side within striking distance. Against the run of play the Baa-Baas were stripped in the tackle by Full Back Kevin Gayson. Out of position the back line struggled to reorganise as they faced an Ashford counter-attack. Unable to close down opposition and former Barbarian Pete Wickens the defence chased the Centre all the way to the line in a 70 metre foot race. Jordan Mann slotted over a conversion in front of the posts to take the opposition 5 point ahead.
The Baa-Baas undeterred – and now with a home crowd in full voice – got back to the task of adding to their tally.
Full Back Rob Cottrell looked a certainty after breaking through, only to be denied by his opposite number. Cottrell finally made it over the goal line after capitalising on a ‘kick chase’. However the celebrations were cut short after play was called back for a lineout, replacement Fly-half Leigh Roberts deemed to have kicked to ball after it had gone into touch.
“Wayne Cleave should be dubbed ‘Lord of the line-out’ after that performance” – Andy May
Back on Ashford‘s 5 metre line the Barbarians almost broke even. A break down the short side by King drew in the opposition defence, the final ball out wide unfortunately not finding its mark.
Replacements: Johann Delport on for Chris Rabjohns at Flanker.
Attack then turned into defence as the roles were reversed and the Baa-Baas were now in the position of trying to clear their lines from a 5 metre scrum. After a consistent performance at the set piece, the Barbarians uncharacteristically lost the ball from the put in. Drawn in by a blind side break by Number 8 Dave Kellett the defensive line were unable to prevent the offload to Back Daryl Mills who went in for the score. The conversion going wide.
The pendulum swung again and the Baa-Baas pushed to get deep into the Ashford’s 22 again. The quick feet of Scrum-half Sam Dale took him around the fringes of the breakdown as he sniped through, diving over the whitewash to score against his old club. Roberts conversion unable to reduce to deficit as it sliced wide off the boot.
Replacements: Steve Blackman on for Aran ‘Salad’ Sage at Prop, Ken Doggett on for Rob Cottrell at Full Back.
Back within a single score the Barbarians’ were hit by, what would be the knockout blow. The opposition with a huge shove walked over a 5 metre scrum; Kellett scoring.
Unphased by the pressure Morris slotted the ball between the uprights to reduce the deficit to 3 points.
The 10 point lead was almost compounded as Ashford Captain Gayson stepped up to kick a penalty just outside the 22. Falling short Winger Frazer Campion gathered and returned. Rallied by the winger, the Baa-Baas went through a series of phases before a lung bursting run by Prop Stuart Wittwer was finally offloaded to Skipper King. A clever chip through picked up by Campion again went through a succession of offloads before making its way back to King. Powering through the last two defenders the Captain crashed over the line for the team try of the season.
Andrew Morris lined up the conversion in the absence of a resident kicker. Unphased by the pressure Morris slotted the ball between the uprights to reduce the deficit to 3 points.
The possibility of getting the result was eventually extinguished as the clock finally ran out – it what seemed like the longest half of the year.
Despite the loss, the work rate, commitment and ‘never give up attitude’ that was on display was best of the season.
We’d like to thank Ashford RFC for being such great hosts and allowing the Derby to be played on the 1st team pitch. The show of support for both clubs from the side lines and the balcony made it a fantastic event to be a part of.
Man of the Match: Andrew ‘Taff’ Morris & Ben King (nominated by ARFC III)
Opposition MOTM: Dave Kellett, & Ben Knight (nominated by ABRFC)
Ashford Barbarians: S.Wittwer, D.Ian, A.Sage, J.Adams, W.Cleave, A.May, C.Rabjohns, B.King(c), S.Dale, J.Potter, N.Turley, A.Morris, D.Ward P.Wright, R.Cottrell.
Replacements: G.Booker, S.Blackman, F.Campion, J.Delport, K.Doggett, L.Roberts, C.Weatherley.
Sin Bin: n/a