Ashbourne plays in Midlands 2 East and won their first league game last Saturday at Belgrave. That meant to most followers of local rugby that the sides would be evenly matched, but the scoreboard was totally dominated by Ashbourne as they racked up 6 tries to Leeks 2 tries.
It was a disappointing start for the game as neither side could display any continuity and it took until the 28th minute for the deadlock to be broken when the Ashbourne left wing scored after the visitors were awarded penalty for offside and the quick tap and run to the right was quickly turned into a switch back to the left. The Ashbourne inside centre’s deft chip ahead saw the wing outsprint the Leek defence and he touched down unopposed. The conversion missed, but the deadlock had been broken.
It still looked like it would be a close game as both sides had struggled up until this point to gain any momentum, even though Ashbourne’s scrum was dominant.
On 34 minutes, the Ashbourne inside centre chipped ahead again to the Leek line. A penalty followed for holding on, but good defence saw Leek bundle the wing into touch. However a poor lineout saw the Ashbourne forwards win the ball and maul Leek’s forwards over the line for a simple try. The conversion was missed again, but Leek was facing a 10-0 deficit and an increasingly confident Ashbourne side.
The half time whistle allowed Leek to replace the sick Jamie Gordon as Tom Bourne came on for his first start this season.
With a minute played in the 2nd half a loose ball squirted out of a Leek ruck. The alert Ashbourne back row secured the ball and quickly the ball was moved wide. Another kick ahead and this time the right wing outsprinted the defence to score Ashbourne’s 3rd try. This time, the conversion was good and at 17-0, Leek faced an already impossible task.
On 44 minutes, Nick Palmer was injured and replaced by Lee Williams.
On 46 minutes, Leek’s scrum was penalised for the 3rd time for an early engagement. A quick tap again and the hooker crashed over from short range for Ashbourne’s 4th try. The conversion missed, but Leek was now losing 22-0.
On 51 minutes, Leek’s first line break, saw The Moorlanders get to the Ashbourne line. They won a penalty and a quick ruck later saw the ball moved wide for Sam Hunt to score. He converted and Leek was on the board at 7-22.
If Leek thought there might be a chink of light in this game, it was quickly switched off as a simple move on 63 minutes saw most of the defence move to Leek’s right as Ashbourne’s attach moved left and the No8 ran in from 30 metres unchallenged. The conversion was good and Ashbourne led 29-7.
5 minutes later and an Ashbourne penalty for a late tackle saw another quick tap and after a couple of rucks an overlap saw another score by the Ashbourne wing. The conversion was good as Ashbourne moved to 36-7.
With a minute to go, Leek rescued some pride as Dave Kennaway crashed over for a try following a quick pen after some good continuity. Sam Hunt converted and some respectability was restored at 14-36.
This was not the kind of preparation Leek needed for next week’s league game at high flying Dixonians, so the training this week will need to restore some confidence in the players as they overcome a number of injuries and unavailabilities.
Next home league game is on Saturday October 29th against promoted Burntwood Kick off 3pm
Author John McDermott