Pool started strongly, dominating early possession and crossed for an early converted try to give the visitors a 0-7 lead.
Ash continued to struggle but a scrum 5m from the Ash try line saw skipper Arkle break free with a strong run to ease the pressure. The home side started to win ball and a typical Henderson driving run was taken on by Jordan Webster only for the ball to be lost forward.
A powerful Mat Gleeson run up the wing set up a good attacking position and after a series of forward drives MOTM Greg Henderson barrelled his way over for the first of his two tries, Arkle kicking the conversion to level the scores after 25 minutes.
Ashington’s scrum was well on top at this stage, driving Pool off their own put in. Taylor sped up the blind side with a run and chip ahead which put Ash into the attacking 22 area. The ball was re-won and spread to the backs with Owen Hayton tackled just short of the line. From the attacking ruck and penalty Henderson once again barged his way over for his second try. Arkle kicking the conversion to give Ash a 14-7 lead.
In an exciting, attacking game, Pool bounced back, levelling the scores on the stroke of half time.
The visitors took the lead just after half time with their third converted try. A Gleeson kick was knocked on 5ms from the Hartlepool line. Webster was held up over the try line after a powerful burst. Ash continued to press, Henderson and Hayton both being stopped short. A series of rucks involving drives from props Marinez and Brierly saw Dickinson reach for the try from close range, Arkle again converting to level the scores 21-21.
At this stage Ash were looking the stronger team, and a 20m drive from Henderson set up a ruck near half way, Merryweather went blind and fed fly half Jack Whiting who out paced the covering defence to score in the corner from nearly 50m out, Arkle’s conversion just missing the upright. Ash leading 26-21.
With seven minutes remaining Dickinson was yellow carded, meaning Ash were going to defend their five point lead with 14 men. Unfortunately from a series of drives Hartlepool forced their way over near the posts for a converted try to give a 26-28 score line.
Ash pressed for a final score, but Pool broke down the right touch line, the ref missing a clear forward pass which allowed the visiting centre to run clear and score under the posts giving a slightly flattering 26-35 score line to Pool.
Ash played their best rugby for some time and on this showing can finish the season strongly.
This Saturday (April 9), Ash are due to play Winlaton away.
*On Sunday, Ashington hosted the U10s County Festival whilst a combined Ashington / Blyth U13s and U14s girls side were also in action. Organisers would like to thank all the volunteers for their help.