WICKLOW'S three-try blitz in a 10-minute spell early in the second half proved decisive as Ashbourne slumped from a promising position to another defeat on Sunday afternoon.On what was a good afternoon for rugby, the south Meath side burst out of the blocks and had 13 unanswered points on the board inside 15 minutes before pressing the self-destruct button and handing the host club the initiative. Ashbourne made the brighter start and were much more disciplined than the home side. During one spell in the first half Wicklow were down to 13 men, but though Ashbourne did score, they did not hammer home the advantage. Penalties from Casey Dunne in the 2nd and 6th minutes had pushed Ashbourne out into an early lead and they were running the ball well. The lineout was working well and the scrum holding its own under pressure. It was from a lineout won by James Rooney in the Wicklow '22' that Ashbourne scored their try on the quarter-hour. The pack formed a maul and drove over the line for Mahon to touch down, and Dunne converted, but that was as good as it got. They had their chances and a number of times, with the extra man and an overlap available, the last pass was not played. Wicklow eventually got on the scoresheet on the halfhour with a well-taken penalty and before the end of the half Ashbourne lost their hooker Cathal O'Connor through injury, with Ken Bolster coming into the pack and Rory Gleeson going in at 2. In the 36th minute Stewart was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle, and when down to 14 men at the start of the second half Wicklow had their purple patch. Though they took their chances well, the Ashbourne tackling was poor and not good enough. By the 11th minute of the half the score had gone from 13-3 for Ashbourne to 24-13 to Wicklow and that is the way the scoreline remained. Ashbourne did pick themselves up and had chances to narrow the gap, but it was not to be their day. The result leaves the south Meath men still second bottom of the table, with a relegation play-off to come if they can't improve on that position in the second half of the season. Their next game, however, is a really testing one at home to unbeaten league leaders Tullow on January 6th. ASHBOURNE: Marcus Speck; Dermot Colreavy, Dave Stewart, Casey Dunne, Joe Taylor; Leo Quinn, Cathal Field; Alan Wall, Cathal O'Connor, Ciaran Roche; Jeff Mahon, Adrian Buckley; Mark Rooney, James Rooney, Rory Gleeson. Replacements: Mark Behan, Ken Bolster, Eugene Gallagher, Pauric Boyle, Saulea Laurentiu.