Ashington beat in-form Gateshead in tough encounter at The Recreation Ground
Ashington, who gave a debut to Jack Eagle, got off to a good start; carries from Thomas Helliwell, Greg Henderson, Matthew Moffatt and Jordan Webster set up an early penalty, missed by the usually reliable Johnathan Arkle. From the pressure a strong Joseph Fearns run was supported by Webster, who drove over for a try converted by Arkle.
Jonathan McNickle then set up an Ashington attack before two missed tackles let Gateshead into the game to score a converted try with their first attack.
Despite a now dominant Ashington scrum, Gateshead took the lead on 23 minutes with a try out wide. Ashington had several opportunities to score and twice opted for scrums when awarded kickable penalties, but turned around at half time 7-12 down.
The home side started the second half strongly, an Adam Junk break saw Arkle in support, and from a quick tap penalty Helliwell sidestepped to score, Arkle successfully converting.
Helliwell added his second try eight minutes into the second half, spinning out of the tackle to touch down after good attacking play.
From the restart Ashington tried to run the ball out of defence and were penalised near their own posts, Gateshead kicking the points to give a 19-15 score with 30 minutes still remaining.
The home side dominated possession, a Junk break was taken on by Fearns, with Ashington twice again declining the chance to kick for goal. Junk eventually extended Ashington’s lead after a strong run by replacement Patrick Delaney, Arkle converting.
Ashington saw out the game with some excellent defence, including two outstanding McNickle tackles, to leave the final score 26-15.
Ashington’s man of the match for the third time in four games was Fearns.
Ashington are away at North Shields on Saturday. Ashington ran out 15-25 winners in the corresponding fixture last season, having beaten North Shields 48-25 in the home fixture.
After a winning start to the 2023/24 season, North Shields have fallen away, losing 39-0 away at Whitby on Saturday their second defeat in a row.