Needing to pick themselves up from their NLD cup defeat last week, possibly one of the last matches Ashfield wanted to start the league season was an away trip to Worksop.
However, to Ashfield’s credit and great rearguard action they came away with a 17-13 victory. Ashfield started brightly and dominated the first eight minutes of the game with good forward play by Adam Roebuck, Rob Peacock, Dan Chapman and Chris Houseman, the latter would play a major part in this Ashfield victory. But as the first half progressed, the Worksop forwards stepped up their game and soon fashioned an opportunity which they took to score an unconverted try to take an early five point lead, due largely to some lacklustre tackling by the Ashfield defence. Worksop, now playing with a freedom their early score had given, were shaken when against the run of play Ashfield had their first scoring opportunity that was finished off with a try from front row Chris Houseman. This forward’s try after some three or four phases of play, involved Josh Heald, Tom Payne and scorer Houseman, who was not going to be denied from close range. With the conversion missed, the score was all square at 5-5. The game then ebbed and flowed with neither team generating any meaningful scoring opportunities and at half-time the scores remained level. The second half got underway and it wasn’t long before the Ashfield had, for the first time, took the lead.
Roebuck was again involved with some inventive play, opening up the Worksop defence for Houseman to score his and Ashfield’s second try, the conversion again missed.
Back came Worksop, who were awarded a penalty that many thought they would kick for touch and build a platform for a try-scoring opportunity. But the Worksop full back placed the ball on his tee and, with a clean strike, it sailed through Ashfield’s posts to leave Ashfield with just a two-point advantage and the game balanced on a knife edge. Back came Worksop again, scoring their second unconverted try and they back in front at 13-10. This woke the Ashfield backs, who by and large had been relatively quiet, who then combined to score a try that owed much to self-belief and individual tenacity of their two wingers. Fly half Billy North’s cross field kick was caught by the Worksop fly half, but he didn’t anticipate the hit that Ashfield’s Danny Wilson would put in on him to jar the ball loose.
The Worksop full back then gathered the ball and again Wilson, charging with one aim, dislodged the ball again.
This time it was gathered by Pete Alldread, who handing off a couple of Worksop players, scored in the corner from 20m out. Billy North’s conversion from the sideline took the score to 17-13. The game almost at an end, Ashfield had to play the final minutes deep in their own half, repelling Worksop’s attacks to ensure a winning league start was secured.
This Ashfield display, although not perfect, was much needed as their next game is another away fixture at highly-rated Belper on Saturday.