Ashton U18s welcomed St Maries to Bear Park this weekend in a reversed fixture due to a waterlogged pitch at Widnes. St Maries kicked off and forced a turnover immediately which allowed them to put pressure on the Ashton defence. The Bears stood up well in the early exchanges and were soon on the front foot with ball in hand as Callum Cottington, Isaac Mather and Tom Shaw made some strong carries to take them into the Widnes half.
The players from both teams couldn’t really get a foothold in the game with errors and penalties from both sides preventing either of them from building any meaningful momentum. It was Ashton who made the first break and after an outstanding break from Ronny Broderick. Ashton then moved the ball quickly, George Green combined well with Callum Cottington and Connor Ashley to put Danny Hill through a gap but he was caught just short by the scrambling Widnes defence. The Bears were in good field position and looking confident but a misplaced pass was intercepted by the St Maries fullback who went the full length of the field to score under the sticks against the run of play. Ashton were unlucky to find themselves 6 points behind and responded very well with some more strong running from Tom Shaw to take them back into the Widnes 40. The Bears then showed their class and a quick move set up Matty Ward to score between the posts. Ward converted his own try to even the scores.
The Ashton second row then started to get into the game with Ryan Hickey and Isaac Wheeler giving Widnes more problems to deal with. Ronny Broderick then spotted a Widnes defender out of position and scooted 30m from dummy half to put the Bears in front for the first time in the game.
The Bears were starting to dominate in defence and were on top in the forward battle with some big defensive efforts from Connor Ashley, Danny Hill, Callum Cottington and Ronny Broderick. This dominance then turned into more points for the Bears when Cottington beat his man, passed to Danny Hill who made further ground before offloading to George Green who put on the afterburners to speed through the broken St Maries' defence and make a sublime pass to Ryan Hickey who scored Ashton’s 3rd try in 8 minutes. The Bears were really enjoying themselves now and Callum broke down the left hand side again and was unlucky not to score. Broderick then scooted from acting half and showed incredible strength to carry the ball and two defenders over the line to score his second try of the afternoon. Ward converted the try and the Bears were 22-6 up at the break.
The opening minutes of the second half was a really tough watch and despite the effort levels from both teams being high the skill level was not at the level that it had been in the first half. The teams exchanged possession through penalties and handling errors and the frustration was starting to show as the sun came out over Bear Park. Ashton thought they had broken the second half deadlock when George Green’s perfectly weighted kick was finished expertly by Danny Hill, but the referee pulled the play back for offside, which frustrated the Ashton supporters even further.
Widnes were working hard to get back into the game and had a period of sustained pressure in the Bears’ half but the Ashton defence stood up to the test and Danny Hill, Ethan Goodban and Alfie Leah worked tirelessly to keep St Maries out. With only 10 minutes remaining in the half the Ashton trio of Cottington, Ashley and Green combined superbly again to break down the left edge and after Callum had been stopped a few metres short of the line, Ryan Hickey scooted to go over for his second and edge Ashton further ahead in the contest. Ward dispatched the conversation and Ashton had a comfortable 28-6 lead.
Ashton were a little too comfortable and guilty of complacency when Widnes recovered possession from their own short kick off and scored an easy consolation try. Fired up and looking to make amends Ashton flooded into the Widnes half following their kick off and put St Maries under pressure. George Green and Kye Van Zelst worked together to drive a Widnes player back 10 metres after contact and then Alex Roughsedge followed up by making the next three tackles to pin Widnes in their 20.
Ashton’s line speed eventually forced an error from Widnes and George Green found Callum Cottington who burst into the line and after beating a defender he offloaded to Danny Hill who finally got the try that his tireless performance deserved. Cottington then kicked the conversion off the touch line to finish the game at 34-10 and secure the 2 points for Ashton Bears.
Final Score Ashton Bears 34-10 Widnes St Maries
Man of the Match - Ronny Broderick
The U18s play their next league fixture against West Bank Bears at home on 16th April.
Credit for Photographs to Ruth Ward & Janet (Widnes St Maries) - Thank You
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