Midlands 3 East (North)
Amber Valley 1st XV 5pts
Ashbourne 1st XV 17pts
Amber Valley finally got back into league action but came up short against high-flying Ashbourne in a hard fought encounter.
There was not much to separate the two teams throughout the game, but Ashbourne edged the key battles and ultimately made fewer mistakes.
Ashbourne’s tries cane from two defensive errors from Valley, probably the only two they made in the entire game where under a lot of pressure for long periods.
The pack tackled well around the fringes and Dowdall and Boam tied up the centre and on the occasion they did breakthough Sims at full-back was equal to the task, putting in possibly his best performance of the season.
But just before half time and when Valley had their captain binned in the second half the visitors took their chances well.
Valley started poorly with the kick-off straight to touch but soon got into the game, Dowdall making some half breaks and some good pick and drives from the forwards, but Ashbourne defended well and Valley didn’t quite execute their game plan to the level required to make big enough gaps.
It was only a break down the wing from Boam that was inches from being a scoring break, but once again Ashbourne covered well and the opportunity passed.
Valley’s main downfall came however when Burditt was binned in the second half whilst Valley were only two points behind, Walters having scored a cracking try in the corner after a period of sustained pressure in the opening minutes of the half.
Chapman showed his class with a half break before the ball was worked to Walters who finished well in the corner.
But Valley conceded two scores whilst the forwards were overpowered to leave them 17-5 down with 20 minutes to play.
Neither side really created any clear-cut chances although as Valley began to move the ball wider they did have some successes, Simms made a couple of decent breaks and fielded Ashbounres clearances well but at the vital time a penalty was given away or the ball knocked on in the difficult wet conditions.
Overall the result reflected where the two sides sit in the table, Ashbourne took their chances well and closed out the win, whereas Valley showed their mid-table position with some good phases of play, but too many inconsistencies.
A re-focus will be required to launch a renewed attack on the league as they now face a procession of league fixtures thanks to the recent weather.
The firsts travel to Mansfield this week to take on a struggling Ashfield side who they comfortably beat earlier in the season, but Ashfield away is never an easy fixture and the team will have to raise their game back to its pre-weather break levels if they are to come away with the points.