1stXV 21 Blackheath 14, Sat Jan 06, 2017, National 1
Ampthill welcomed Blackheath to Dillingham Park on an overcast cold January afternoon for the first home game of 2018.
Amps squad saw multiple changes, up front Toby Trinder returned at Prop, Aleki Lutui moved to Hooker, Billy Johnson moded to Lock and Will Allman rotated to start at Blindside. The backs saw Kevin Barrett return at Scrum Half, Lawrence Rayner rotate to Fly Half while Owain James returned at Wing. The bench saw a debut for dual registered from Wasps Hooker Gabriel Oghre while Ben Gulliver and Gavin Williams rotate with Karim Lynch returning from injury.
A's began well playing against a stiff breeze taking the lead on 5 minutes after a series of red zone phases gave Openside Joe Bercis the chance to scoot behind the posts for a try converted by full back James Pritchard.
Much of the next 25 minutes belonged to the visitors as they pinned the hosts back in their own half with excellent kicking from hand, however, the home side withstood the onslaught with outstanding defence. The visitor's only reward was an 11th minute penalty goal kicked by former Ampthill favourite Joe Tarrant.
In the 30th minute, much against the run of play, Ampthill kicked a mid-field penalty to touch inside "Club's" 22, won the ensuing lineout and the resulting catch & drive was unstoppable with captain Aleki Lutui coming up with ball, again Pritchard added the extras.
Despite much effort neither side could trouble the scoreboard before the half time whistle blew leaving Amps ahead 14-3.
The second half began without the wind that characterised the first and Blackheath took advantage with a well taken unconverted try on 46 minutes by wing Jake Lloyd after a missed tackle in mid field followed in the 57th minute by a Tarrant penalty goal to reduce the lead to 3 points.
A's were clinical in striking back on 65 minutes with a try from lock Billy Johnson who was in support after a fine mid-field break from replacement hooker Gabriel Oghre making his debit dual registered from Wasps, fly half Lawrence Rayner adding the extras.
Blackheath weren't done though, a 75th minute Tarrant penalty closed the gap to one score and the remainder of the game which included almost 5 minutes of injury time saw them pounding the hosts in the middle third but the defence, in sharp contrast to the pre-christmas game against Old Albanian, held firm.
A solid defensive performance from the home side saw them secure the win, in truth however, there was little to excite the crowd from either side.
Head Coach Paul Turner comments "A tough game resulting in a good win against a very competitive Blackheath side. The pack were excellent with both flankers Allman & Bercis standouts while behind the scrum Barrett and Weightman also catching the eye. A much improved defence secured the points but we wasted too many opportunities to put the game to bed."
Tries:- Bercis (5), Lutui (30), Johnson (65)
Conversions:- Pritchard (6, 31), Rayner (66)
Tries:- Lloyd (46)
Penalties:- Tarrant (11, 57, 75)
Half Time:- Ampthill 14 Blackheath 3
Man of the Match:- Joe Bercis (Ampthill)
Referee:- Neil Chivers
Attendance :- 292