Newark Thirds Overcome Ashfield Seconds to Secure Place in Notts Shield Final
By DAVID GODFREY
Newark Thirds 35, Ashfield Seconds 0
The Third XV was the only game in town at Kelham Road this weekend in the semi-final of the attractively named Notts Intermediate Shield against Ashfield Seconds, and with the possibility of eventual silverware on the table, both sides were up for the contest.
Ashfield found themselves under pressure from the outset, rarely breaking out of their own 22 during the first quarter and doing well to contain a remorseless battering from Newark as the half backs switched plays between using the forwards to carry and spinning it wide to the competent back division to stretch the defence.
Something had to give, and although Ashfield did manage to clear the lines to halfway at one point,
Newark were straight back at them and with the fancy footwork of the likes of Buds Aloesi sucking in defenders in the centre, it was only a matter of time before they manufactured an overlap on the left and Alex Jackson sprinted over for the try – 5-0 to Newark.
This was the signal for Ashfield to apply some pressure of their own and it was Newark’s turn to be pinned back into their own 22 for some time. Unfortunately for the visitors however, they failed to control the ball at the back of the scrum, allowing the ever-alert AJ, playing at flank, to scoop the ball and make some good yardage before being hauled down. With the Ashfield defence still scrambling for position, the forwards pushed up into a breakdown on the left, which was rapidly recycled down the line into the hands of Budda who found the gap in the centre and scored between the posts – 10-0.
And things only got tougher for Ashfield a minute or two later when they lost at their own line-out and the ball went wide to colt James Harding who hurtled off up the left wing to give Newark their third score of the day – 15-0.
Ashfield were down but not out and the next few minutes saw fierce competition on the Newark line as they made a huge effort to wrest back control of the game and they were unlucky not to cross over. In the end however, they were again let down by a small error (forward pass this time) and the resulting scrum – where Newark had a real edge – gave us a chance for relief and a solid platform from which to push back up the field to halfway. With no let-up in the frenetic pace, the ball was again sent wide to Harding, setting him up for a run down the wing before looping round to dot down between the posts – 22-0, half time.
The visitors may have been hoping to slow things down a little in the second half, and they certainly never gave up, remaining feisty and competitive throughout. But from here on in Newark were increasingly dominant, with all the forwards carrying hard and making real inroads into the defence, well-marshalled by the excellent Matt Walton who had switched to scrum half during the break.
Ashfield looked more stretched by the minute, and when the ball was adjudged to have been held up over the line after some very effective Newark mauling, the pass went right from the resulting 5m scrum to be gratefully received by Johno Marshall who duly sprinted over the line to touch down for a 5-pointer – 27-0.
And Newark were back on the attack straight away, rucking up the pitch from the restart before popping the ball up to big Sam Willis who waded through several opposition players with Jacob Marchant in support before crashing over left of the posts for the sixth and final try of the day – 32-0.
When Johno Marshall added a further 3 points to the tally from a penalty offence a few minutes later, this was the final score of the day, with Ashfield never quite managing to get back into the game and it was a tired but victorious group of lads who trudged off the pitch at the final whistle for some grub and a well-earned pint in the club house. Final Score – 35-0.
Excellent all round performance from the whole squad today, with numbers available for both forwards and backs, and really encouraging to see a few of players out there whom we haven’t seen for a while in what has been a fairly disrupted season for one reason or another. It’s a shame England couldn’t quite measure up to the same standard at Twickenham later in the day…
Tries: Alex Jackson, Buds Aloesi, James Harding (2), Johno Marshall, Sam Willis
Penalty: Johno Marshall