Garstang Seal the Deal
Garstang run riot to confirm themselves as league champions against a spirited Ashton-under-Lyne side
Garstang 81-19 Ashton-under-Lyne
Garstang secured the league leadership for the first phase of the season in a thrilling encounter against Ashton-under-Lyne on Saturday. Despite the outcome, the game was not as one-sided as the score-line suggests with Garstang scoring heavily in two or three periods and the visitors implementing their ‘pick and drive’ game to great effect for sustained periods.
Garstang started the game at a breathless pace and within a couple of minutes they had the first try of the afternoon as Sam Tomlinson went over from close range. From the restart Andy Tissingh took the ball in midfield and burst through the would-be tacklers from deep in his own half, he crashed through the final defender and ran in for an outstanding individual score (12-0).
Ashton, who had beaten the second placed team the previous week, showed that they were not just there to make up the numbers as they came straight back at Garstang. Their ball retention through countless phases was impressive and, despite the strong defence from the home side, they eventually opened their account with a try in the corner (12-5).
Garstang came straight back and the flying prop, Edgar Nicholls, made one of his trademark breaks to cut the defence open and score another try. Ashton couldn’t be held back though and they scored another try with more of the same to reduce the deficit to 19-12.
The home side always felt in control and they pulled clear in the few minutes before half time. Firstly, Luke Richmond went over in the corner to score the bonus point try and then Adam Riley made a smart break and stepped his way to the line to send the hosts into the interval leading 31-12.
The start of the second half saw one of the most extraordinary sequence of scoring as Garstang blew the visitors away with four tries in as many minutes.
Firstly, Graeme Slater went over for his first of the afternoon following great play from the team straight from receipt of the kick off. Then, Kieran Davies and Ainsley Pye both went over as Garstang fielded the kick offs and scored without the opposition touching the ball. The final try of the sequence saw Slater crash over again and, with Davies adding all the goals, the score was remarkably 59-12.
Gavin Barton, who is usually a try-scoring machine got in on the act as he bagged a quick brace midway through the half, the first of which saw Andy Tissingh nearly replicate his earlier wonder try, on this occasion he unselfishly offloaded to Barton for a stroll in (69-12).
Graeme Slater helped himself to a hat-trick as he bundled over near the posts and then Joel Dugdale went over in the corner to extend the lead to 81-12.
With over ten minutes to play it looked like Garstang were going to go close to the century but Ashton rolled up their sleeves and got their driving game back in order to score a try with a couple of minutes to play (81-19).
The last plays of the game went on for an eternity as Ashton pummeled the Garstang line in the hunt for a fourth try and an unlikely bonus point. However, Garstang’s defence was resolute and they hung on to deny the visitors.
Graeme Slater won the Man of the Match award for a great performance which included a hat-trick of tries.
Team: Nicholls, Corless, Everest, Slater, Whittaker, Tissingh, Pye, Barton, Riley, Davies, Tomlinson, Harrison, Dugdale, Nickson, Richmond. Replacements: Makinson, Brown
On Saturday the team are away at North Manchester in the penultimate game of the Lancs/Cheshire Three North campaign.
The Blues, who have struggled for numbers in recent weeks, travelled to Aspull and they were beaten by 45-5. On Saturday they are back in action at home against Preston Grasshoppers 5ths.