3's lose their final game of the season
By Keith Warhurst
Ashton provide a new meaning to the phrase 'maximising the bench'
Stockport 3's travelled to Ashton Under Lyne for the final game of the season to take on Ashton 2nd XV. This leads to a slight misleading insight into the game as we were soon to find out that Ashton 1st XV had no game and there were more substitutes available than spectators (including pets) but hey ho, we had made the effort to travel so may as well get on with it. Pre-match build up was not best ever as we discovered that 5 players had cried off including Tom Peers with the dubious and vague excuse of "I'm helping Macca? Oye Oyuwumi then contacted team manager Ed Weeks to say that he was on his way by tram as his lift had let him down and could he be collected? This led to the next calamity to hit the team as Ed managed to sustain a puncture on his car meaning Oye arrived even later and Ed didn't reappear at all!!
The game started with back row Chris Astley filling in on the wing however Stockport were absolutely brilliant for the first 15 minutes with wave after wave of attack coupled with a dominant scrum that led to the first try of the match when a free kick was awarded from a scrum infringement and quick thinking saw No.8 Andy English barge his way over for a try converted by stand off Rick Morgan. With Stockport in the ascendancy and exerting more pressure, a kick for goal from a penalty narrowly went wide and then Ashton began to get a foothold in the game. With subs being introduced like an ice hockey match, they registered their first converted try after a kick ahead caused disarray in the Stockport 22 and the ball was eventually recycled for a converted try to be scored. With their tails up, Ashton continued to attack not least when Stockport kicked to clear their lines and landed it straight on the Ashton winger who returned it with interest and from a resulting penalty, the Ashton No.8 barged his way over giving Ashton at 14-7 half time lead.
Onto the 2nd half and despite having a strong wind at their backs and kicking tactically, Ashton couldn't manage to turn their pressure into points aside from a single penalty taking their lead to 17-7. Eventually the pressure told as well as the visitors tiring against the constant introduction of fresh players from the Ashton bench saw them over for a 3rd converted try of their own extending their lead to 24-7. Stockport then lost one of their props meaning uncontested scrums was the order of the day and it was from such a scrum that the Ashton team began to goad English at 8, demanding that he run at them so they could flex their muscles. Comically English picked up from the base and surprisingly, every would be tough-guy managed to go their best impression of a traffic cop or matador or revolving door and unbelievably manage to move out of his way as he strolled over unopposed for another Morgan converted try to bring the score to 24-14. Stockport now had their tails up but unfortunately time was running out and mistakes cost them the opportunity to press further for another score which meant a losing game to end the season.