Comeback of the Season
By Mark Bent
To say it was a game of two halves would not do the match justice
Stafford u14's visited Ashbourne on a bright but windy Sunday morning to fulfill the fixture that was cancelled the previous weekend because of waterlogged pitches.
Ashbourne started the game playing with the wind and quickly rushed into a 20 - 0 lead as Stafford struggled with the ball in hand and were not at the races in terms of tackling. However, after the first 10 minutes Stafford started to find their feet and Dan Cleaver was able to break a few tackles and score his first try, converted by Josh Williams. Ashbourne continued to pile on the pressure and scored another two tries both times beating the Stafford defense out wide with some nice handling and backs moves. As the half drew to a close Dan Poultney scored a breakaway try in the left hand corner leaving the score at the break 33-12 to Ashbourne.
The Stafford boys were very disappointed with themselves at half time and some strong words from the players seemed to change their attitude and they were determined not to let Ashbourne have it all their own way in the second half. Playing with the wind the tactic was to keep Ashbourne in their own half if possible and a mistake by the Ashbourne full back enabled Josh Williams to open the second half scoring. Stafford continued to put pressure on Ashbourne in their 22 which resulted in a failed clearance kick that Jobey Mitchell charged down to score under the posts. Ashbourne then had a rare visit to the Stafford half which resulted in a try out wide. However this score seemed to stir the Stafford boys again and they were camped in the Ashbourne 22. This pressure and fantastic counter rucking and close range forward attacks allowed Dylan Wilde to score 2 close range tries. This left the score at 38-36 with 5 minutes remaining. From the kickoff the Stafford boys launched a long range attack, getting the ball to Dan Cleaver out wide who ran half the length of the pitch to score under the posts with Josh Williams making the conversion. In a tense last 2 minutes Ashbourne nearly scored a winning try of their own but some desperate tackling from the Stafford boys ensured they held on for a tremendous comeback win with the final score being 38-43.
There were some stand out performances in the second half especially from the forwards who dominated the rucks and the close range tackling. The likes of Dylan Wilde, Harvey Garcia, Dan Poultney and Hugo Sutton had outstanding second halves and had a major influence on the end result.
With this kind of attitude and come back win the boys can see its about sticking together, playing for each other and not letting their head drop when things are not going their way. Both parents and coaches were very impressed with the boys attitude and determination. There are things to work on technically but attitude wise the Stafford u14s are in a great place.
Well done boys