Updated: Apr 26
The Under 18s took a coach trip up to Cumbria to face this weeks' opponents, Dalton-in-Furness in a League and NWC Cup Double Header. The Bears were missing a couple of experienced players today and so Ronnie Broderick was deputising at loose forward and Ryan Hickey was standing in for him at hooker.
Ashton received the ball from the kick–off and made some good early metres to settle the nerves and take them into the Dalton half. On the fourth tackle George Green burst through a gap in the Dalton line to put the Bears in a great attacking position and with only 3 minutes played it was Ashton who opened the scoring through an outstanding solo run from Connor Ashley who finished 20m left of the sticks. Matty Ward added the extra two after his conversion went in off the upright. Dalton responded with intent, and they retained possession from the kick-off to put themselves into a great spot. The Ashton defensive line stood up well and Daniel Hill regained possession after a big shot on a Dalton player forced a knock-on. Dalton showed enthusiasm and aggression in their tackles as they tried to get themselves into the game and they reduced Ashton to only a few meters gained despite strong efforts from Isaac Mather and Tom Shaw. Ashton found themselves under the pump and gave away a couple of soft penalties which allowed Dalton a period of sustained pressure which ultimately resulted in their first try of the game. The missed conversion left Ashton with a slender lead, but they now knew they were in for a difficult afternoon against a strong opponent. Ashton’s props were being targeted by Dalton, but the Bears were starting to have some joy through the back row of Isaac Wheeler and Jack Blake plus Ronny Broderick was making good yards from loose. The next breakthrough came through another jinking run from the skilful George Green who made over 30 metres downfield; from the resulting play he then found Connor Ashley who set up Ronny Broderick who then showed quick hands to loft the ball to the supporting Isaac Wheeler to score and put Ashton 10-4 ahead. Dalton came out firing again and both teams were going at it hammer and tongs for the rest of the half, this made for a great game to watch but did not result in any points for either side. With 5 minutes remaining, the heat of the game resulted in a sin bin for a Dalton player after he was guilty of pushing as Ashton played the ball. The game was on a knife edge going into the break with only 6 points between the teams.
Ashton started the second half with a one man advantage and were looking to capitalise on this early by moving the ball quickly to create gaps in the Dalton line. Ronnie Broderick then put a cheeky kick over the top of the Dalton defence but he was tackled high as he sprinted forward to retrieve the ball which resulted in a penalty for Ashton 30m out. It was Ronny Broderick, this time scooting from dummy half and punching a hole in the tired Dalton line, who finally turned the possession into points. Matty Ward added the extras and Ashton started to edge further in front. Dalton were now restored to 13 men on the field but very quickly became their own worst enemy as another one of their players was sent to the bin for tripping an Ashton player. The perseverance and determination of Isaac Mather and Tom Shaw was starting to pay off and they were now dominating the middle of the park and building a solid platform for Ashton to play some more expansive rugby. Jack Blake and Isaac Wheeler were putting a shift in from second row and Danny Hill, on his 17th Birthday, was causing Dalton some real problems on both sides of the ball. This was the cue for George Green, who gave Dalton a headache all afternoon, to show his skill again and play a perfectly timed ball for Connor Ashley to make a break down the right hand side. Connor ran for 40m before offloading to the energetic Ethan Goodban who touched down in the corner to finish off an outstanding play with another 4 points for the Bears. Ronny Broderick kicked the conversion from the sideline, much to the delight of the travelling Bears fans. It wasn’t long before Ethan Goodban was on the score-sheet again when he finished off another cracking move from the Bears that saw the ball moved expertly out wide through quick hands to exploit the space left by Dalton. Ronnie Broderick stepped up to kick an almost identical conversion to his earlier attempt and the Ashton supporters were now in full voice as the ball sailed through the uprights to extend Ashton's lead to 24 points. Dalton, now with their full complement of players, were playing for pride and throwing everything at the Bears and the remainder of the second half finished in a similar fashion to the first with massive efforts from both teams resulting in a really physical contest. With only a few minutes left on the clock the game looked as if it could potentially boil over, but the referee dealt with the incidents extremely well. Dalton were finally rewarded for their endeavour and scored a late consolation try which they converted to take their points tally to 10. The final whistle came not long after and the Bears won the game 28-10 which saw them pick up two valuable league points and progress to the next round of the NWC Cup.
Final Score Dalton ARLFC 10-28 Ashton Bears
Man of the Match - Tom Shaw
Thank you to Ben Green who stepped in as Touch Judge at short notice this afternoon.