Ashfield RUFC go top after late penalty secures win against Cleethorpes RUFC

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Ashfield maintained their 100 per cent league record with a hard fought 27-25 win against a very good Cleethorpes side. 

The win was secured with a late penalty kick and moved Ashfield top of the table.

Speaking after the game head coach Paul Hodson said: “With a performance that lacked finesse, Ashfield fought hard to eventually overcome determined opposition. I am proud of our victory as last season we would not have closed this game out.”

From the kick off, Ashfield set about the visitors with immediate pressure being applied on their forwards.

And the pressure soon paid off as Gareth Purnell put them ahead with a penalty after two minutes.

But Cleethorpes came roaring back and levelled with a penalty of their own following some sloppy Ashfield play.

This setback didn’t seem to derail Ashfield and flanker Will Jones, back in the side after a three games absence, nearly scored a try after good work by the forwards.

A quick backs move by the visitors, caught Ashfield flat-footed and they scored a try in the corner, but missed the conversion to go 8-3 up.

Ashfield came back with four phases of play with good carries by Dan Chapman, Chris Houseman, Mark Denman and Matt Turnbull taking them deep into the Cleethorpes half.

With Cleethorpes spoiling, the referee had no alternative but to award a second penalty to Ashfield, which was converted by Purnell.

Purnell then sent a third penalty over to put the home side 9-8 up in this tight contest.

Ashfield began to play with as the forwards creating a good platform from a rolling maul and were prevented from scoring a try following great last-ditch defending to deny centre Jono Richardson. 

The home side would not be denied for long as Pete Alldread scored a sublime solo try. Purnell adding the conversion to put Ashfield 16 - 8 ahead.

With the crowd debating what might have been, they were not prepared for the ebb and flow game they witnessed in the ensuring 40 minutes.

Cleethorpes came back in the second half as Ashfield failed to learn from their mistakes and the visitors scored a penalty.

Ashfield came back strong as Purnell crashed over for a try after an excellent chip over the top from Billy North. 

This score should have been defended, but the frailty shown by Ashfield was there for all to see and, after a period on five minutes sustained pressure by Cleethorpes, their effort was rewarded by a converted try to make it 21-18.

Purnell extended the lead to six points with his latest penalty as the game entered the dying stages.

Ashfield then had Chris Houseman sin-binned and Cleethorpes took full advantage to score a try and lead 25-24.

But Ashfield refused to be beaten and Purnell added to his points tally with a late penalty to seal a dramatic win.