Kent Salver Semi final
Askeans 17 – 29 Cliffe Crusaders
Askeans played valiantly on Saturday against current Kent Salver holders Cliffe Crusaders (Cliffe) and came up just short in an attritional open game.
Cliffe are in a league above us and a well-run ‘Town’ side, which showed in the early exchanges. They cycled the ball well and had initial control of the game. Whilst most of the first half was played in Askeans’ half, however, it was certainly not ‘Backs to the wall’ stuff and Askeans had a strong scrum throughout the game.
Cliffe led by 10-0 in the first quarter before Askeans settled and spent some time in Cliffe territory. They were rewarded with an excellent penalty kick by Roddy, far out of the left-hand side.
Cliffe scored two tries just before half time, the first a flowing try from the halfway line and the second, after several phases following the re-start.
As well as conceding two quick tries, Askeans now had injuries – To Igor Pestrikov, Charlie Grist and Adam Maguire. And as soon as the second half started, a mix up in Askeans’ hastily reorganised defence saw Cliffe score again.
3 – 29
Injuries aplenty, 19 points conceded in less than ten minutes, the omens were not good.
But as so often this season, Askeans’ players dug deep and instead of capitulating, showed great spirit, typified by Will Simpson, one of our players from Greenwich University. He gave our pack a strong foundation, initially playing at prop and then to help out, shifted to full back as the injuries mounted.
Askeans were now creating pressure by looking to play quick ball and turn their opponents. It was this tactic that led to a period of pressure on Cliffe’s 22 metre. A couple of driving runs and then Roddy crashed over for an excellent try!
10 – 29
There was still thirty minutes to play and one hoped….…. but then another injury, this time to Will Glendenning, who had to leave the pitch (HIA). Askeans were now down to fourteen players – and still they competed and defended - and it was from defence that they scored an excellent try.
Cliffe were deep in Askeans’ 22 metre, looking likely to score, when Dave O’Connor brilliantly ripped the ball from a Cliffe attacker and set up an Askeans’ attack on the left. The ball reached Fionn O’Connor, just outside our own 22 metre. He broke outside and ran like the wind, beating two Cliffe cover tacklers and scored under the posts – Surely a strong candidate for try of the season!
17 – 29
Askeans were now really back in the game and Cliffe were beginning to bicker. In the last ten minutes or so, Askeans continued to press but were unable to cross the Cliffe line once more.
There was just time for a fracas, five minutes before No Side, which saw a player from each side sin binned.
Askeans’ performance can be judged by Cliffe players greeting the referee’s whistle for No-Side with a cry of relief as well as elation!
A game that could have got away from Askeans ended up being highly competitive. Every Askeans’ player should be justifiably proud of their effort!
Player of the Match: Fionn O’Connor
The Rectory Field
Saturday 17th February 2.30 pm KO
Askeans vs Ashford II
Counties 5 Kent League
See you there!