Newcastle Knights kicked off their 2012-13 season a week later than most, thanks mainly to some heavy rain, but the sun was shining as the Novocastrians took to the field against a well known opposition. Newcastle had faced Ashton LC's "A" team on numerous occasions since the inaugural 2008 season, however this was their first meeting with the Ashton first team.
It was discovered pre-match that Saturday's Newcastle team was made up of players varying in experience from 2 to 20 years - Doc realising he had been playing more years than many of the team had been walking. Many players were making their debut in the silver and black, including Harry Mead, Eddie Dale and Chris Turnbull. A ridiculous amount of defenders meant that Robin Webb and Martyn Walker adopted unfamiliar roles in attack and midfield respectively.
The pregame talk consisted of the usual cliches - ground balls win games, hunt in packs, possession is key, score more than the opposition, play with a smile and have fun. However the boys in silver also had a game plan, something which they had focused on at Thursday's training. Ashton are renowned for their love of a 6man zone in defence, and the Knights knew a run and gun approach was not the best option.
Both teams looked pretty rusty throughout, however Newcastle's athletic defence kept on top of the Ashton attack, allowing them few opportunities to threaten Matthew Jolley in goal. When the threats came, the usually originated from some nifty footwork by the Ashton midfield. The Knights' attack however were able to break down the Ashton zone, with goals coming from a number of sources including Mead, R Webb, M Webb and Suddaby. Poor shot selection, forced play and some John Marr-esque saves (2 with his head) by the Aston keeper kept the score line below 10.
All in all it was a relatively uneventful game with some decent lacrosse at times, and some rusty play at others. The Knights were able to fulfill their game plan of scoring more than the opposition, winning the game by a score of 8-3. The return leg will in no doubt be a whole new ball game, with both teams having time to work out some kinks. Luckily the Ashton players report a new and improved home pitch which, fingers crossed, won't resemble a mud bath.
With Rochdale up next Saturday, the Newcastle boys will be facing much tougher opposition....
Newcastle vs Ashton
C Suddaby (3)
R Webb (1)
M Webb (2)
H Mead (2)
NuTLax Top Scorers 2012-13
Suddaby - 3
Mead - 2
M Webb - 2
R Webb - 1
Previews, match reports and general musings from the Toon and beyond.