Stockport 3’s bounce back to leave Mersey all at sea
By Keith Warhurst
A solid away win built on epic defence
Stockport 3’s were back in league action with yet another away game at Ashton On Mersey. With both teams next to each other in the league table, this was destined to be a close encounter with the last 2 games being decided by 6 points or less.
Playing in cold and wet weather, on a pitch that resembled a trampoline underfoot the away side started like a runaway train with big carries making in roads into the Ashton defence. From resulting pressure, Ashton conceded a penalty and from the resulting line out the forwards executed an exceptional rolling maul which saw No.8 Andy English over for the first of his 2 tries, converted by full back James Keen. Stockport were soon 2 tries to the good after excellent work in midfield saw outside centre Chris Dodd with an exquisite offload out of the tackle to the marauding Keen who danced around his opposite man to score himself albeit missing the conversion. Stockport were in rampant mood and showed no signs of taking their foot off the gas when further pressure saw English in the wide channels and managing to barge his way over for his 2nd try, converted by Keen giving the visitors an impressive 19-0 lead after only 28 minutes. To their credit, Ashton came back into the match and piled a whole heap of pressure on the Stockport defence however it stood firm with some well drilled defending being well marshalled so that the home team could not find a way through. Eventually Ashton were awarded a penalty which they opted to kick for goal, another sign that the Stockport defence was holding firm however the kick was pushed wide. Just on the stroke of half time, another adventurous Stockport attack from their own 22 saw forward after forward carrying into the heart of the Ashton team and when the ball was eventually moved wide it found it’s way into the arms of Dodd who sauntered over for the 4th Stockport try of the half to leave the half time score at 24-0.
The 2nd half was a bizarre affair with it being almost exclusively played in the Stockport half where again the defence came to the fore and it took a full 30 minutes of attack after attack before the Stockport line was eventually breached. The defence on display in the 2nd half from Stockport was immense although it took its toll on the ageing back row duo of English and Johnny McPherson who had given their all for the cause but were never going to last the full 80 with their chocolate bodies. Despite conceding, the final word went to Stockport as they launched a counter wave of attacks which resulted in tired Ashton bodies lying all over the ball and after several infringements in the red zone, the referee had no alternative but to award a penalty try to Stockport.
The final act of the game saw captain Kyle Chapman catch the kick off from which he ran away from the nearest touch line that he was stood next to and towards the furthest touchline just so he could kick the ball out to signal the end of the game and quite possibly the best 3’s performance of the season so far?