Plymouth Albion 16 1stXV 9, Sat Nov 11, 2017, National 1
Ampthill travelled to Plymouth to find a damp afternoon with increasing rain making handling difficult. Amps squad saw Toby Trinder return at loose head, Paino Hehea at lock and Billy Johnson at blindside, the backs were unchanged while Loti Molitka came onto the bench covering the back row.
There is never much daylight between these two sides, another titanic battle was anticipated and delivered where the result was in doubt right up to the final whistle.
As in recent games Amps came out of the blocks firing dominating territory and possession for the first 10 minutes while camped in the Albion half. Josh Sharp missed a sitter of a penalty in front of the posts on 5 minutes and again on 24 minutes slightly to the right of the posts. On any other day the National 1 player of the month for October would have kicked them in his sleep.
Albion, responding to the missed penalties, started to gain more territory and possession but after a change of kickers James Pritchard scored the first points of the game in the 33rd minute with a penalty goal. Just 5 minutes later after more pressure Pritchard was successful with another penalty goal.
As the half came to a close Plymouth exerted pressure, A's left wing Sam Baker jumped in leaving a hole which Albion exploited to touch down on 46 minutes. Fly half Dan Mugford adding the extras from the touch line to give the hosts a 7 v 6 lead at oranges.
The visitor's coaching team were concerned as playing with the elements they had failed to convert pressure into points at crucial times while the officiating at the scrummage had disappointed with the home loose head clearly hinging and going to ground regularly.
The second half started well for Ampthill with good territory and possession, on 50 minutes Plymouth were penalised with Pritchard stepping up secure both the 3 points and the lead.
Albion responded in the 55th minute with a penalty goal to nudge back in front. This score was the trigger for the home side to establish their ascendancy and, using the elements well, the control they demonstrated was in complete contrast to Amps failure to make the most of the conditions in the first half, not for the first time this season.
The hosts extended their lead in the 62nd & 68th minute with well taken penalty goals.
A's effort couldn't be faulted as they dominated the final 10 minutes but a lack of accuracy and poor game control was again a feature as opportunities were wasted.
The visitor's pressure was mounting when a poor pass by Sharp resulted in a knock on which allowed the hosts to exit their half.
Back on the attack in Plymouth's half another unsympathetic pass led to a further knock on allowing Albion to clear their lines again.
The final few minutes saw the visitor's pounding the home line but outstanding defense from the hosts together with wrong options led to a final knock on resulting in a 16-9 score at no side and Ampthill once more leaving Brickfields with a just another losing bonus point.
Head Coach Paul Turner commented "We can't ask for any more effort, in particular the from the pack who collectively put in a massive shift against a very good Plymouth eight. One or two of the backs had an off day which ultimately cost us the victory."
In other news the 1881s secured a good result away at Richmond. The home 3rdXV, the Saxons, were thoroughly eclipsed. Having led 7-29 at half time Amps 2ndXV went to secure a 12-44 win.
Todays results see the 1stXV drop from 2nd to 4th in National 1 while the 1881s climb to 2nd in Zoo Division 1.