1stXV Secure Bonus Point Win At Bishop's Stortford
Ampthill travelled to Silver Leys to face old rivals Bishop's Stortford for the first time since the hosts promotion to National 1. The last 6 games between these two sides had seen 3 wins for todays visitors, 2 for todays home side and one draw. All games had been close and both the expectation and preparation had been for another competitive match.
Up front Amps squad saw Jack Culverhouse start at prop and Alex Woolford return at lock. The backs were unchanged from the win over Esher while the bench saw prop Toby Trinder rotate while Kevin Barratt returned as scrum half cover.
For once A's had got off the bus before the game began as the opening exchanges saw Bishop's Stortford pinned in their own half. Good defence prevented a score and after the visitors were held up from a catch and drive, they finally took the points on offer as the home side were penalised to take the lead with an 11th minute penalty goal from wing James Pritchard.
Gradually the hosts came back into the game and they were rewarded on 22 minutes with a penalty goal of their own struck by Cannon to draw level. This seemed to inspire Stortford with the second quarter proving their best period with Hankin scoring a a 25th minute try converted by Cannon to take the lead.
Ampthill fought back earning another penalty chance in the 28th minute converted by Pritchard.
The response from the hosts was immediate as they strove for a second try, choosing to kick for the corner on three occasions despite kickable penalty opportunities.
Amps goal line defence was outstanding and, after repelling multiple attacks, a length of the field move out of their own red zone which saw backs and forwards combining finished with hooker Aleki Lutui crashing over and Pritchard adding the extras to regain the lead 10-13 on the stroke of half time.
At times during the games against Blackheath and Esher, the new look A's squad had shown signs of producing the kind of performance that the coaches had been looking for, the second half here saw them truly dominate their opposition.
Straight from the kickoff the visitors scored after another backs and forwards move from inside their own half left fly half Elliot Reeder a simple 41st minute touch down converted by Pritchard.
Toby Trinder, replacement prop, was somewhat controversially sent to the sin bin for dropping a scrum. No one in the Ampthill coaching team understood why, none more so than Amps scrum coach who observed the opposition continually refusing to scrum legally.
Despite being a man down A's extended their lead through lock Alex Woolford who scored on 57 minutes with Pritchard adding the extras.
A lack of concentration from the restart gave the home side some relief after a daft offload gifted them an unconverted try to leave the score 15-27.
The hosts like to play but you need to earn field position first, an attempt to move the ball from inside their own 22 saw the visitors replacement scrum half Kevin Barrett snatch the pill and scamper over the line securing the bonus point in the process on 65 minutes, Pritchard again successful with the conversion.
Ampthill were now turning the screw with constant pressure on the home defence, replacement fly half Josh Sharp eventually benefiting with a 74th minute touch down while Pritchard was again successful with the conversion.
Man of the Match flanker Sydney Blackmore received a late in the game yellow card. Bishop's Stortford took advantage scoring a 80th minute converted consolation try.
Director of Rugby Mark Lavery commented "A dominant display on the road against a capable side. Ampthill are beginning to find their form, there's still plenty to work on but there's also plenty more to come."