Retford knocked out in Semi-Final
By Dan Preece
East Retford 1st XV 20
Ashfield 1st XV 59
Ashfield, who are flying high in the league above, visited Retford on a glorious day for rugby in the NLD semi-final. Retford made a poor start, not dealing with the kick-off and allowed Ashfield to ship the ball to the wing for an early try. Retford responded well and good running allowed them to get good field position which resulted in a successful penalty kick by Dan Preece. A disappointing 25 minutes followed for Retford, allowing Ashfield to score four unanswered tries and in doing so perhaps showing the visitors too much respect. A number of missed tackles and quick Ashfield handling allowed them to pass the ball wide quickly and run around the backline. Retford were 31-3 down at half time.
The second half started in a similar fashion with Ashfield making the most of their penalty restart to use their pace out wide to score. Retford needed to show some pride and prove their worth of semi-final spot, and it came through some fantastic driving forward play. Playing to their strengths, Retford strung together six phases marching down field, leading to an attacking scrum. The introduction of vice-captain Jordan Mee was influential in Retford’s approach at half time and it was Mee who broke the Ashfield line down the blindside, releasing Dan Fielding in support who crossed for Retford’s first. Momentum then swung in the game and Retford played the next 15 minutes on the front foot. Winger Dan Lodge made a fantastic break from the restart sprinting down his touchline to gain invaluable territory. More powerful running and clever handling from a number of forwards allowed Dan Preece to go over in the corner. The score 15-38 as Retford started to dominate territory and possession. Unfortunately this was not enough to stop Ashfield’s strong running game, going on to score two more tries. One last push from the forwards allowed Jordan Mee to make a break and cross for Retford’s third well deserved try. Ashfield had the last say with a final try, proving why they are standing second in their league and came out deserved winners. Retford must take pride in their second half comeback and kick on into a crucial run of league fixtures in the coming weeks. Jordan Mee had a great influence coming on at half time leading from the front and Dan Lodge was destructive in attack and defence on his wing. They both fully deserve their Man of the Match awards.