Ashfield dig deep to move up to third

Ashfield's Savenaca Koroibulileka.
Ashfield's Savenaca Koroibulileka.

Ashfield RUFC continued their winning ways with a tough 10-3 home victory against Boston, moving up to third in the Midlands 3 East (North) League.

Following their impressive away win at Belper the previous week, Ashfield came into the game on the back of a four game unbeaten league run and with enforced team changes the outcome could have been very different.

The changes saw second row Craig Ward, back row Jono Richardson, scrum half Savenaca Koroibulileka and front row Greg Newbutt all come back into the starting line-up.

The first half was largely uneventful with possibly Ashfield being a little disjointed, but both teams were constantly probing, looking for that elusive opportunity to opening the scoring.

The Ashfield back row of Richardson, Reece Courtney and Dan Chapman were virtually unplayable, however, both sides countered each other out and at half-time the score was 0-0.

But Ashfield have a new-found resolve and philosophy that has been outlined by director of rugby Mark Denman and coach Gareth Jones, and the players have bought into this and the traditionally strong game plan now has a potent cutting edge.

It wasn’t long before Gareth Purnell had the opportunity the home side was striving for through a kickable penalty, but the kick was pulled wide. However, Purnell had another chance and this time made no mistake slotting the ball through the posts.

Purnell was outstanding on the day, not necessarily known for his defensive duties he never missed a tackle all afternoon, and this coupled with five points from his boot made it a memorable afternoon for the young Welshman.

Ashfield’s only try of the afternoon was a piece of sheer brilliance, tenacity and skill from Guy Jones. He received the ball with half the Boston defence facing him but Jones had one thing on his mind.

Handing off three Boston players, sidestepping two others, he was unstoppable, crashing over the line for an individual try of the highest order. Purnell would not miss the conversion and it was 10-0 to Ashfield.

Boston, through their outside centre Dan Halliday then ensured they would leave Larwood Park with a losing bonus point. But worse was to follow when their second row Matthew Dean was sent off with 10 minutes to go.

Mark Denman said: “It wasn’t the free-scoring game we have seen this season, it was a very workmanlike performance from the squad of 16 players that ensured our victory today.

“It was a game of few opportunities but when we were presented we took them. I think this was the difference between the two sides plus Savenaca Koroibulileka playing at No.9 held us spellbound at times with his unorthodox approach to the scrum half position.

“We were dominant in the lineout and our defence was on top throughout the 80 minutes giving a winning platform we required.”

Ashfield now prepare for a trip to Chesterfield Panthers on Saturday, kick-off 2.15pm.