Ashfield RUFC rued missed opportunities as they suffered a 14-5 away defeat to Sileby Town RUFC at the quarter-final stage of the RFU Junior Vase competition.
Ashfield had the majority of play in the opening 30 minutes, but failed to convert three kickable penalties in the opposition’s 22 and a more difficult conversion that could have given the away side a healthy 16 first half points.
Instead they had to settle for a slender two point lead that never looked to be enough.
The opening 10 minutes saw good sniping runs from scrum-half Tyler Morgan and full-back Danny Wilson, both making good ground prior to defensive cover tackles halting their forward momentum.
But it was a mistake by the home side that presented Ashfield with their first penalty.
On 10 minutes the Sileby forwards were penalised for not rolling away in the tackle 18m out and left of centre field.
With Gareth Purnell unavailable, kicking duties were handed to fly-half Billy North who pulled his kick left of the near upright.
Due to unavailability of players, the Ashfield back line contained two forwards, Tom Payne and Rob Peacock the latter replacing the injured Danny Wilson that in turn lead to an early back line reshuffle.
This certainly didn’t help Ashfield’s cause during the game, but they could not be held responsible for a lack of quality in the midfield area.
Although Ashfield had good possession and territory the next 10 minutes of play was somewhat scrappy and gave only one notable opportunity to Ashfield. Another penalty conceded by Sileby some 35m out allowed North to arrow a ball to the 5m line obviously aware it would be an Ashfield line-out.
With the Ashfield line set, line out jumpers, Mark Denman and James Kirk were the target and it was the later who took the ball to set a rolling maul. With a superior pack, Ashfield should have driven for the line but instead they committed an offence that allowed Sileby to clear their lines via a scrum and kick to touch.
With 25 minutes played, Ashfield and North were awarded their second kickable penalty when the home side were penalised for holding on in the tackle.
From a very similar position to his first attempt, North’s kick again missed.
Within two minutes North was again presented with an opportunity when the home side were again penalised for holding on in the tackle. This one was a little more central but his kick missed to the right of the far upright.
Un-phased by his missed penalty attempts he had the foresight to deliver an arcing ball to wing Rob Kirk that took out two Sileby defenders on 31 minutes, allowing Kirk to go over in the corner for a 5-0 lead.
With the penalty count mounting against Sileby, it was somewhat surprising that on a rare Sileby foray deep into the Ashfield half a penalty was conceded by the Ashfield forwards.
The award was justified but that wasn’t enough for the referee who issued a yellow card to Ashfield’s Nick Brearley, who had only just replaced prop Chris Houseman, to leave Ashfield down to 14 players.
Some 12m out and directly in front of the posts the Sileby fly-half would not miss to leave Ashfield winning 5-3 at the break.
Ashfield commenced the second half at full strength but it was Sileby who had the first chance with 42 minutes played.
The Ashfield forwards were penalised for holding on in the tackle, and from 25m out the Sileby kicker would not miss.
Sileby increased their lead to four points on 51 minutes when again an Ashfield forward was penalised for not rolling away in a match that was fast turning into a tail of two kickers.
This was evident on 59 minutes when for the fourth and final time North had a chance to kick a three point penalty, but again he missed.
With Sileby’s confidence growing they scored a try from the best passage of play over the 80 minutes from either team.
From a point of attack at centre field, play was switched from one side and then the other, pulling the Ashfield defence out of shape.
The Sileby backs exploited the space on the Ashfield left flank with a two man overlap to cross the line in the corner, with a missed conversion Sileby held an unassailable lead 14-5.
Ashfield over the past three to four games have been disappointing and have notbeen helped with the constant change in personnel.
They must now refocus and get back to winning ways as they face Bingham at home on Saturday.