1stXV 30 Caldy 14 , Sat Feb 17, 2018, National 1
Ampthill welcomed Caldy to Dillingham Park on a cold but sunny afternoon with a gentle breeze blowing across the pitch. Amps team had an unusual look, some 6 years ago Viliami Ma'asi began a Tongan dynasty which ended today, temporarily we hope, with no Tongans in the match day squad for the first time in 180 odd games.
A's started well producing a series of forward phases deep in the visitors 22 straight from the kickoff which led to hooker James Fish scoring under the posts in the 2nd minute, full back James Pritchard converting.
Caldy responded by breaking the line in mid field through their remarkably nimble prop, creating their own series of phases which culminated in the hosts being penalised just inside their 22 and bang in front of the posts, scrum half Ben Jones making no mistake to reduce the deficit to 4 pts in the 5th minute.
The game was pretty even at this stage with both sides having to defend well to prevent scores while territory & possession was equal. The home side had the better of the lineout through much of the game while the visitors had slightly the better of the scrummage, particulary late in the second half with a man advantage.
On 12 minutes, Caldy were penalised in turn inside their 22 to the right of their posts, Pritchard capitalising with the a well struck penalty.
The 22nd minute saw a trademark catch & drive from Ampthill on their opponents 22 resulting in blindside Syd Blackmore scoring wide on the right, Pritchard striking a superb goal from near the touchline.
Ampthill were again adjudged to have transgressed in defence in the 36th minute with Jones converting the penalty goal but yet again Amps responded with a Pritchard penalty goal to restore the lead just 3 minutes later.
Straight from the kickoff A's were back on the attack and this time a sweet handling move saw Pritchard execute a chip on the right wing and win the foot race to score wide on the right. This time his conversion struck the post leaving the score 25-6 at oranges, the visitors may well have felt hard done by that score!
The second half was just as exciting but less trouble for the scoreboard as first Jones converted a 48th minute penalty goal. The next 30 minutes saw both sides with scoring opportunities but neither could capitalise through a combination of good defence and poor option taking.
On 78 minutes wing Nick Royle was adjudged to have touched down a chip through in the right corner but Jones conversion slid wide.
More or less straight from the kickoff the hosts secured their try bonus point after a superb break in midfield and great support play left number 8 Billy Johnson a juggling act to touch down wide on the left, Pritchard's last kick of the game conversion sliding wide.
A very competitive game with both sides having showing both good attack and defence. Caldy's young side were both skillful and strong offering good prospects for the future.
Ampthill Head Coach Paul Turner commented "A good response after last week's poor performance at Cambridge, the bonus point win was achieved by playing some decent rugby. The pack performed well while Fraser Strachan has his best game in maroon & gold but eighthman Billy Johnson stood out as my man of the match. Caldy are a good side who will trouble many teams during the run in this season. I was pleased, given our extensive injury list, that several players demonstrated a desire to keep their places."
Tries:- Fish (2), Blackmore (22), Pritchard (39), Johnson (79)
Conversions:- Pritchard (3, 23)
Penalties:- Pritchard (12, 38)
Tries:- Royle (76)
Penalties:- Jones (5, 36, 48)
Half Time:- Ampthill 25 Caldy 6
Man of the Match:- Billy Johnson, Ampthill
Referee:- Mr Dan Parrott
Attendance :- 327