Get Well Soon, Matt!
Our U18s dedicated their final game of the 2023 pre-season to Matt Sullivan, a friend of the team who is currently in hospital recovering from injuries sustained in a recent road traffic accident. Both teams lined up for a minutes applause before kick-off and we all send our best wishes to Matt and hope he returns to full health and can get back out on the rugby field soon.
Ashton went into this game with 3 players on debut for the club, Alfie Leah, Kyle Van Zelst and Morgan Brown. We had 3 other players making their home debut at Bear Park, Isaac Mather, Jack Blake and Tom Preston and we had Callum Whelan returning to the club after last pulling on a Bears shirt in the 2017 U11s Season. Golborne started the brighter of the two teams and after scoring two tries in quick succession they found themselves 10-0 up almost straight away. The first try caught the Bears defence napping and Golborne created an overlap down the right hand side and finished well in the corner. The second try was one that Ashton will want to forget about very quickly as Golborne capitalised on a Bears’ handling error in our own 20m to pick up and score an easy 4 points. The Bears reacted well and the rest of the half became a bit of an arm wrestle with not much to separate the teams until one of the Golborne players was given 10 mins in the bin for lifting in the tackle. Ashton were able to make the most of the extra man and Kye Van Zelst showed a blistering turn of pace to score a try on debut in the corner. The Bears went in trailing 10-4 at half-time and had a big job on their hands if they wanted to get back into this game.
Ashton came out firing in the second half and looked a different team to the one we had been watching in the first half and it wasn’t long before Jack Blake went over for the Bears which was a big confidence boost. The Bears forward pack, led by Ronny Broderick were now slowing Golborne down with some big shots in defence and they were also starting to punch holes in the Parkside defence with big carries from Tom Shaw and Callum Whelan. Connor Ashley and George Green started to show some great skill to exploit the cracks that were beginning to show in the Golborne line and Callum Cottington burst through to score an excellent try down the left hand side to put the Bears ahead on the scoreboard for the first time in the game.
The momentum was now with the Bears and within a few minutes they were celebrating another try after Joe Rustage created an opening through good footwork and a burst of speed; he beat 4 defenders to score. Matty Ward added the two and Ashton were now 8 points in front. Golborne fought their way back into the game and had a couple of opportunities but the Bears’ defence stood up well. Matty Ward then moved up into the attacking line from fullback to evade a couple of tacklers and go over in the right corner for another Bears try.
After a slow start the Bears now looked like they were going to see the afternoon out comfortably but with 12 minutes to play there was a sin bin for Ashton, after interference at the ruck, which allowed Golborne to create space and score their third try of the game. At 22-14 and down to 12 men the Bears knew they would have to dig in deep to see the game out and they worked tirelessly to keep Golborne from scoring until they were back to 13 on the field. With only a minute left on the clock George Green broke down the left edge and floated a perfectly weighted kick towards the the corner. Danny Hill came through at speed and took the ball on the full to score and secure the win for Ashton.
The game finished 26-14 with Callum Cottington picking up Man of the Match.
2023 Season starts next week at home v Shevington Sharks
Credit for Photographs to King’s Pix - Thank You