Ashby 12-20 Loughborough
Loughborough travelled to local rivals, and struggling for form, Ashby for a Friday Night Lights game on their (sometimes) floodlit pitch. The occasion drew a decent and raucous crowd that wasn’t damped by the wet and windy weather.
Loughborough started well though showing their scrum dominance with back-to-back push-offs that led to multiple penalties and territory in the Ashby 22. The ball eventually went wide and Co-Captain Fly Half Greg Biddle did a great show-and-go to keep it himself and dart over the line from 5m out. He converted his own try.
Although playing against the wind, Loughborough seemed to refuse to kick away any possession, even when deep inside their own 22. This refusal to exit led to Ashby getting good ball and their scrum half putting a lovely little box kick over that got touched down in the corner.
What happened next will go down in Loughborough RFC folk law for a long time. First, after Coach and Loosehead Prop Steve Duffus had knocked on a potential interception earlier, once Leon Fifield repeated the act on a potential Ashby overlap (on the halfway line), it was always going to be a yellow card.
Next, Ashby’s scrum half was experienced and had been targeting young Loughborough scrummie George Hincks all game. He then went a bit further but was smart enough to do it behind the referee’s back... and got the reaction he wanted as George Hincks ran back over to put in a pathetic attempt at a push which the pantomime crowd loved. Amazingly the referee then produced a yellow card for Hincks - how dare he have handbags with another scrum half in a game of rugby?!
Not to be out done, the Loughborough forward’s wanted to be involved in the petty yellow cards when Hooker Mike Roberts tackled an Ashby player before he reached 10m from a tap-and-go penalty off the 22. The problem was, he had defenders behind him and the Ashby player had taken it from 5m in front of the mark.
Down to 12 players, Loughborough decided to gamble on winning the scrum (with a full pack) leaving the backline empty. This paid off as Ashby’s midfield knocked on.
Loughborough’s defence then showed their character as they held out everything Ashby could throw at them - as they slowly regained their sin bins.
Amazingly it was Loughborough who scored next as they marched their way up the field, heavily through the men-vs-boys scrum. Composed thinking saw the decision to kick a penalty close to the posts.
5-10 at half time.
Ashby started the second half and were playing to the conditions very well, keeping it tight. The problem was that they secured the ball but Loughborough were winning the collisions. At one point Ashby reached 15-20 phases but lost 15-20m to be pushed back to the halfway line!
Loughborough finally won a penalty and kicked for touch. A few lineouts and the ball popped out the back, unsurprisingly in the weather. An Ashby Second Row then took the stupid decision to stamp on Mike Roberts’ leg right in front of the referee. A yellow card was the least he deserved, but it’s what he got. Greg Biddle kicked the penalty.
Unfortunately Loughborough’s defence was tiring and Ashby’s direct game eventually worked as they scored underneath the posts.
The Ashby crowd were now getting their team going but Loughborough’s players were simply better. Loughborough went back to their strengths and were choosing scrums from all their penalties which would gain yards every time and use up the clock. One last scrum saw the ball come out and Greg Biddle once again call his players around him but then hold the ball himself to squirt through. He kept up his perfect game with the conversion.
The last few minutes were spent with a very messy game as the pitch was 100% mud by now. Then suddenly the floodlights went off!!! After a few minutes of pitch blackness, only lit up by iPhone torches, the coaches and referee agreed that the match would have to end. But with only a few minutes to go and a clear gap in the scoreline, the result would stand with little argument from Ashby.
A simply amazing game of attrition and heart, Loughborough came away with an away win in some of the worst conditions of the season.
Well done boys and get yourselves down to the LRFC to watch the 6 Nations today!!!