Ashton elected to play up the slope and into the wind and at times struggled to contain a resolute Marple side with strong runners. However Ashton managed to keep the home team at bay with some strong tackling and well organised defence. Ashton took the lead after 15 minutes with a well worked try from fly half Max Weatherhead and a drop goal conversion from full back Luke Berry. Marple responded almost immediately and good running and support work ended in an unconverted try. For the rest of the first half the game was fairly even and just before half-time Ashton missed a penalty kick as they tried to extend their lead. Ashton turned around to play down the slope with a slender 7-5 lead.
In the second half the game really opened up and Marple started to exert real pressure with driving mauls pushing Ashton back up the slope. Their efforts were rewarded with a penalty try as Ashton struggled to contain another driving maul giving them a 12-7 lead. Within 5 minutes Ashton were back in the lead with a try from second row Ed Porcher who forced his way across the try line following a lineout. Luke Berry struck an impressive conversion to give Ashton a 14-12 lead. Within 10 minutes Ashton scored two more tries from the irrepressible Max Weatherhead. The first following a super break from Luke Berry and good support work from Matt Stansfield which saw Weatherhead barge his way over in the left hand corner. The second quickly followed with another scything break from Weatherhead to score under the posts to make the score comfortable at 26-12. Marple were re-invigorated in the last 10 minutes with substitutions bolstering their effort against the bare 15 of Ashton. The home side were now barnstorming and broke through to score two unconverted to make the score 26-22. Ashton were desperately hanging on at the end and a lineout steal from Ed Porcher close to Ashton’s line secured the win.
Outstanding games from Luke Berry (who made several try saving tackles) and Ed Porcher and special mention to Martin Jennings who stepped up as an emergency tight head. Man of the match – Max Weatherhead.
Updated 00:19 - 4 Nov 2018 by Pat Stokes