A select group representing several generations of Askean players and supporters witnessed a regeneration of Askean Rugby at the Rectory Field on Saturday by the Select 18.
The current team qualified for the final of the Counties 4 Kent Shield with a fine controlled exhibition of elusive running rugby, strong resolute defence and a powerful performance from our own ‘Hateful Eight’ who more than held their own against a heavier and formidable pack.
In a game with a place in the final at stake there is always an element of nerves – not least amongst the vocal supporters.
Old Gravesandians, who had the upper hand in an earlier encounter in the season, were soon on the attack and scored a disputed try in the corner to take an initial advantage 0 – 5.
Undeterred by this early setback, Askeans responded positively and following a penalty they drove to the line where Jack Henderson was just held up, before the ball was quickly recycled for Nick Patten to dive over – Roddy added the extras with a neat conversion.
7 - 5
Again the match see-sawed when Old Gravesendians opted for a scrum near the line and scored down the blind side to regain the lead
7 – 10.
They continued to apply pressure after the re-start but impressive Askean defence left their efforts unrewarded.
The Askean backs then responded with considerable enterprise to punch holes in the opposition defence leading to Jack Henderson evading a number of tackles to run clear from the centre of the park in a Lomuesque scoring run. Roddy slotted over the conversion - The lead had changed hands again - Askeans led 14 -10 at the end of the 1st quarter
Askeans continued to play enterprising rugby and a flowing movement involving forwards and backs with Jack Henderson once again causing havoc in midfield set up Roddy for the third Askean try – Roddy converting again.
This time Old Gravesendians came back strongly and Askeans’ great resilience in defending their line to half -time proved to be pivotal to the outcome.
With a 21 – 10 edge at half time things looked good for the final.
After half time, Old Gravesendians maintained the pressure which eventually told as they scored in the corner to cut the lead to 21 – 15.
As so often in the ‘Shield’, Askeans responded when they really needed to. They camped in Old Gravesendians’ half, forced a penalty and Roddy converted
24 – 15
Not to be outdone, Old Gravesendians also kicked a penalty to reduce the Askean lead to 24 -18.
Roddy, kicking excellently, again replied to increase the gap 27 – 18.
With the match on a knife edge, it entered the final 10 minutes and Askeans absorbed a great deal of pressure, especially after Lewis Bainbridge was yellow carded for a high tackle.
Old Gravesendians could smell blood and made their man advantage pay to score a converted try from a lineout.
But Askeans were not to be denied – heroic defence and a gargantuan effort by the pack, especially in the scrum, kept the visitors at bay until the final whistle blasted for a 27 – 25 victory and a clear path to the final.
The Select 18
Toby Setters, Daniel Walkden, Ollie Stevens
Henry Gillett, Ciaran O’Flynn
Jack Fiennes, Sam Hills, Nick Patten
Charlie King, James Roddy, Jack Henderson, Diarmuid Morrissey.
Fionn O’Connor, Harrison Sanford, Lewis Bainbridge
Ghazie Kadi, Robert Stanley, Adam Maguire
There followed much deserved celebration for the players
…………….and the faithful supporters.
It was brilliant to see so many former players from the 1960s through to the 2010s who came to cheer the side to victory.
The list…….Not in age order (to spare any embarrassment)included
Steve Homewood, Lunny (obviously), Felix, Carol, Ian Johns, Chris Peters, Tony Mims, Phil Amato, Ian Alexander, Frank Briggs, Graham Briggs (no relation), Daisy May (who had travelled from Thailand), Paul Taylor, Chris Peters.
Additional support was welcomed from -
Blackheath supporters, Marilyn, Glenn, Duncan,
Sam and Yithzak from Greenwich University
and great to see some supporters from Greenwich RFC.
Fortunately, Daisy had a pacemaker fitted a couple of days before, otherwise the tense final 10 minutes might have been too much for him!
It was good to have a family atmosphere once more!
Len & Chris Jeffrey, Paul and Rachel Clarke and their boys Jack and Charlie, Alan & Ian Hunt, and friends, relatives, partners and babes of players!
And many many thanks to Ground Manager Danny Rouse, for serving us up an excellent pitch!
Counties 4 Kent Shield
Askean RFC vs Lordswood RFC
Saturday 11th March, 3pm KO
The Rectory Field, Charlton Road, SE7 7EY