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U18s Bears Nullify the Sharks’ Attack

Ashton Bears welcomed Shevington Sharks to Bear Park on Sunday for the first game of the U18s season. Both teams looked up for the clash with some strong drives and fierce tackles in the opening exchanges. Shevington made the first break as their pacy full back took advantage of a late retreater in the Ashton line and set off on a 60m run before Danny Hill slowed him down with a strong first contact before Matty Ward recovered for Ashton with an excellent cover tackle.

The next 5 mins of the game were a little stop-start due to handling errors from both teams but it was Ashton who broke the deadlock. Isaac Mather laid a good foundation with a strong drive up the middle and on the next play the Bears showed their skill and moved the ball through quick hands on the right edge allowing Callum Cottington to set up Joe Rustage to score.

Shevington responded well and moved up the field into the Bears’ half. Ashton were soon defending their own line but showed grit and determination to keep the Sharks at bay. Ashton returned fire and within a few drives they had gone from their own line to the Shevington 20. The Bears started to build some pressure of their own and picked up a couple of repeat sets. Ashton moved the ball quickly to right again and Ethan Goodban passed wide to Alex Roughsedge who burst on to the ball to fly in at the corner.

With only 20 mins played and a couple of missed conversions Ashton were not yet comfortable with their 8 point lead and Shevington’s pack, helped by a penalty out of their own half, were now camped on the Bears’ line. The Ashton goal line defence was outstanding and the lads all turned up for each other to keep Shevy out. Tom Shaw came off the bench and made an immediate impact with a strong drive out of the Ashton 10 to take them up the field.

Ashton then made another break, this time down the left through Connor Ashley and Jack Blake, but this unfortunately broke down after a failed Shevington interception attempt resulted in a knock-on. Ashton then showed quick thinking and switched the play from the back of the scrum and George Green evaded a couple of tackles to go round the posts and score under the sticks. Matty Ward pushed Ashton further ahead with the conversion and The Bears went in at half-time 14-0 up.


The second half started well with the Sharks looking to get themselves back into the game and the forwards from both teams exchanged some big hits. It took 7 minutes of the second half before Ashton came to life in attack and Kyle Van-Zelst used his quick feet to break a tackle and go on a mazy run down the left hand side only to be caught by the Shevington defence just short of the line; quick thinking from Ryan Hickey gave Ashton another 4 points as he scooted over the line from acting half and put the ball down 20 metres to the left of the Shevy posts. Another conversion from Matty Ward took the score to 20-0 as the Bears started to put some daylight between the two teams.

Ronny Broderick was putting in a brilliant performance at hooker and Ashton started to dominate possession with strong carries from Callum Cottington and Isaac Wheeler building pressure but it was a sublime kick over the top from George Green, intended for the chasing Danny Hill that opened up the Shevington line. Play was stopped when a Shevington defender tackled Danny in the air and blocked what looked like a certain try. Ashton now had a penalty close to the Shevington line and with all the momentum now in their favour Callum showed his strength and power to brush off three attempted tackles and score close to the right post. Matty comfortably kicked the conversion.

The Bears did not let up and attacked down the right hand side with George Green putting Isaac Wheeler through a gap in the Shevy line. A high-shot on Isaac spared Shevington from conceding a try on that play but from the resulting penalty, George Green first showed exceptional individual skill to bamboozle the Shevy defence with his footwork and secondly showed incredible strength to reach for the line with two Sharks defenders on his back and put the ball down under the sticks.

Another simple conversion from Ward, to top off a good afternoon from him, and the score was 32-0 to Ashton going into the final 10 mins. Ashton were now playing with real confidence and there were a couple of notable breaks from George Green and Ryan Hickey that made a lot of ground and were unlucky not to result in more points for the Bears. Morgan Brown who was causing the Sharks problems all afternoon was unlucky to see a yellow card for pushing after it looked as though he was caught high in the tackle.

Ashton saw the rest of the game out resolutely with 12 men and worked hard to nullify the Sharks’ attack despite the set back.

Final Score - Ashton Bears 32-0 Shevington Sharks

Man of the Match - Ronny Broderick

The U18s now have a week off before they return to action at home v Chorley Panthers on 19th March

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