Hope Valley back in the promotion hunt

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Hope Valley RUFC underlined their promotion credentials with a 20-15 victory at Ashton-under-Lyne seconds.

Valley made the short trip to Ashton to face a home team that had been significantly strengthened for this fixture, not least by the inclusion of former Valley fly half Tommy McGuigan.

Undaunted, Valley started the game at 100mph, forcing Ashton into errors and infringements, and it was a tap penalty that saw Jake Oldridge maintain his recent try scoring streak, crashing over from short range for a try converted via the post by Ed Oldridge.

That 7-0 lead that was soon extended when Ben Somerton converted another penalty.

However, that fired Ashton in action and they halved the lead when their full back rounded off a fluent handling move with an unconverted try.

As Valley began to fall off tackles and struggle to contain the lively backs, the home side threatened to take the lead.

The threat needed to be extinguished and when a thundering Somerton run sent Ashton’s defence into disarray, Jake Oldridge was on hand to cross for his second score, re-establishing a 10-point lead.

Once again Ashton responded as, with time running out, their pacey backs created an overlap for another try.

Fortunately McGuigan had left his kicking boots at home and it left the half-time score 15-10 in Valley’s favour.

With their forwards providing plenty of possession, Valley again began the second half on the front foot and, after Somerton had contentiously been adjudged to be held up over the try line, Kristian Williams found himself on the end of a tap penalty move to once again restore a 10-point lead.

Valley then decided that defending furiously with 15 men wasn’t exciting enough, Matt Keeley receiving a yellow card and forcing them into a hasty reorganisation.

That was working well until Ashton were once again the beneficiaries of a contentious grounding decision as another unconverted try once again narrowed the gap to five points.

As the game became increasingly fractious and the decisions increasingly bizarre, the final whistle came as a welcome relief to players and spectators alike as Valley secured a victory that saw them return to a promotion position.