Midlands 3 East (North)
1st XV 19pts
Ashby 1st XV 24pts
AS kick off approached Valley had to contend with two late changes, with back rower John Readhead pulling up with a calf strain and centre, himself a late change due to a late injury to Lee Steemson, Duran Wardale being called away to the birth of his son.
This was compounded as the game started with an early injury to Ashley Allen, who looks to be out for a few weeks with a groin strain.
But Valley still opened the scoring with a well worked try, finished by Steve Grainger. Lorenzo Tinari, making his first start for the club spun the ball wide and as the ball was recycled Valley took it through the phases for Grainger to crash over from short range, kick missed to give Valley an early 5-0 lead.
It was during the build up to the first score that Valley lost Allen, meaning that Valleys coach, Mark Brocklehurst, had to don his boots and step in at inside centre.
Valley were then caught out defensively as they re-shuffled and Ashfield levelled by scoring under the posts.
If Valley could learn one thing from this game then its about playing Rugby in the right areas, too often when under pressure the boot wasn’t applied to the ball and in attack the ball was perhaps kept too tight, but as Valley bed in these new combinations these decisions should improve.
Valley did take the lead again, another good break from the backs gave them field position and Karl Bunting took advantage of a penalty to quickly tap and dive over the line, conversion missed to leave Valley 12-7 up as the break approached.
Ashfield pressed and scored a fortunate try as Valley failed to deal with a rebound off the posts and their hefty inside centre caught the ball and burst through some weak Valley tackling to put Ashfield back in front.
With Shaun Dowdall, who was hoping to rest an injury, pressed into service Valley once again re-shuffled the back line.
Valley knew they had the power up front, where they were beginning to find the edge in the scrum and line-out and when the backs line to cause Ashfield problems but too often they lost concentration, once again allowing the opposition to score two very soft tries. And leave Valley an uphill task.
It was testament to the fitness of the pack that Valley dominated the last phases of play, but despite earning a penalty try they couldn’t quite finish the game off.
Valley return to league action this Saturday away at newly-promoted Belper, who have made a solid start to the season.
It was good to see the return to Gareth Turner to the starting line-up after a lengthly hip injury and Lorenzo Tinari showed what he is capable of.
Cresswell Crusaders 7
Amber Valley 2nds 24
Valleys second team recorded a notable victory against league side Cresswell Crusaders.
The team were bolstered by the return of Rob Robbins and Matt Rooke from the grasp of cricket.
But it was an all round team performance that hopefully bodes well for the rest of the season.