1stXV 17 Loughborough 17 , Sat Feb 03, 2018, National 1
Ampthill welcomed Loughborough to a damp, windless Dillingham Park which had seen persistent rain falling all day, however the pitch remained in good condition.
Amps squad changes included a return to the starting XV for Jack Culverhouse (prop), Matt Collins (prop), Josh Walker (lock), Syd Blackmore (eighthman) and Stef Leibenberg (scrum half) while Josh Taylor rotated to start at hooker. The bench saw James Fish comes in to cover hooker while Karl Garside & Maama Molitka rotated to cover prop & backrow respectively.
Loughborough dominated the first 20 minutes with Ampthill unable to escape their own half. Ampthill's set piece was struggling with both lineouts and scrums seeing turnovers while the 'Students' moved the ball crisply with the ball carrying of their big prop standing out.
The visitors should have taken the lead on 18 minutes when awarded a penalty inside Amps 22 and in front of the posts but the penalty was reversed after the referee took exception to something said.
On 22 minutes Ampthill secured their first possession inside their opponents half with a series of phases ending up wide on the left allowing wing Karim Lynch to athletically catch a cross field kick wide on the right and crash over for the games first try.
The 36th minute saw a classic Ampthill catch & drive try scored by openside Joe Bercis after a penalty had been kicked to Loughborough's 22.
The final act of the half was a superb try in which backs and forwards combined to move the ball 60m after a turnover. Wing Sam Baker, ever in the right place, received the scoring pass, fly half Josh Sharp adding the extras.
Having established a comfortable 17-0 lead at oranges, A's then threw away the game with a series of errors gifting opportunities ruthlessly capitalised upon by the visitors.
First, a straight forward missed tackle in mid field allowed centre Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas a direct run under the posts on 50 minutes, converted by fly half Owen Waters. Next, in the 54th minute, an unnecessary attempt to run a deep kick back saw a penalty conceded, converted by Waters. Finally, on 69 minutes Loughborough took advantage of their extra man, following the hosts unnecessary yellow card at a breakdown, to tie the scores with a try from openside Andrew Boyce after multiple red zone phases, converted by Waters leaving the score tied at 17-17.
In between, time and again, the home side put themselves under pressure with poor decision making and worse execution behind the scrum.
Loughborough deserved at least a draw from this game. The hosts coaching team, while praising the forward performance will have much to say about the second half to the backs.
Ampthill Head Coach Paul Turner commented "For the umpteenth time this season we failed to secure a win in game where we were comfortable. Having weathered a tough first 20 minutes to lead at half time we allowed our game control to fall apart in the second half.
Loughborough deserved the result after we opened the door for them, clinically taking advantage of our errors. Kicking the ball away with time up while deep in their half just summed up our performance!"