Last Minute Try Secures Win Over Bedford
Ampthill welcomed visitors Bedford for their first ever competitive game against the hosts to the Grange Jaguar Bowl on a dry, bright afternoon with a moderate breeze. The pitch, bathed in wall to wall sunshine after the heavy overnight rain cleared around mid-day, looked a picture while underfoot conditions were excellent. As anticipated, the official attendance was the highest of the season, the 2151 spectators enjoying expanded facilities including extra bars and Amps first ever grandstand!
Blues began very well, taking the game to A’s up front testing the home side’s scramble defence. The pressure continued to build leading to visiting scrum half James Lennon crossing on 5 minutes for the opening score, fly half William Hooley’s conversion bending in the wind before bisecting the posts.
The hosts responded, exerting their own pressure inside the visitors 22. Ampthill scrum half Kevin Barrett broke blind from a scrum deep inside Bedford’s half on 14 minutes timing his pass to right wing Spencer Sutherland, who was making his season debut for the 1stXV after recovering from injury. He showed his speed to dive over by the corner flag, fly half & captain Louis Grimoldby’s conversion attempt also showing a ‘banana’ shape, this time the wind took the kick wide.
With 2 tries inside the first quarter and both sides looking dangerous one might have expected the pundits forecast of a cricket score to follow but it took until the 30th minute before the next important action occurred when the same incident saw A’s lock Shay Kerry and Bedford’s No. 8 Daniel Temm awarded yellow cards.
Just 2 minutes later a speculative kick ahead bounced kindly for visiting wing Ryan Hutler who was tackled just short of the line. Saint Sutherland turned sinner as he was adjudged to have prevented the ball’s release and joined his team mate Kerry in the bin.
With 13 now playing 14 Blues turned the screw forcing a series of phases in the home side’s red zone which led to the referee running under the posts to signal a penalty try on 36 minutes after he lost patience having decided that the hosts had infringed once too often.
Ampthill’s kick off was secured by the visitors but at the ensuing ruck they were penalised allowing Grimoldby to kick a fine penalty in the 39th minute to leave the score 10-14 at oranges.
For the second week in a row Amps lineout was not functioning while their discipline was hurting with doubling up on offences causing much lost territory.
Shortly into the second half Kerry & Temm returned to the field followed by Sutherland, sadly the quality of the game did not improve as both sides seemed to consider ball retention optional while A’s continued to earn the wrath of the officials.
Bedford had several opportunities to take advantage of lineouts inside the home 22 but a combination of improved hosts maul defence and wrong option taking saw those chances go begging.
The 68th minute gave a chance for Bedford to extend their lead as Ampthill yet again infringed at a breakdown but Hooley’s kick almost turned at 90 degrees after it left the tee.
As both sides emptied their bench Amps replacements sparked a revival with scrum half Fukofuka breaking down the blindside leading to a series of phases deep in Blues 22 where lock Billy Johnson fought his way across the line in the 78th minute, Grimoldby adding the conversion to leave A’s leading by 3 points.
There was time for the restart but the kick sailed into touch and the referee blew for no side leaving the Amps the winner of the first competitive game between the clubs this century.
In truth this was not a great game of rugby, there were far too many errors, infringements and interruptions in play. A’s won a game at the death that could and perhaps should have seen another result.
Bedford Coach Mike Rayer commented “We got what we deserved! We needed to get a couple of scores in front but we failed to take our opportunities. We’ll go again when Ampthill visit in the league on Boxing Day.”
Ampthill Head Coach Paul Turner commented “No one would have believed it If anyone had said 10 years ago that Ampthill would be hosting Bedford in a competitive game at Dillingham Park. Our lineout was poor and our discipline worse but this result defines our attitude. Our defence in the second half gave us a chance and our bench won the game in the last 5 minutes. Now we must focus on our Boxing Day league fixture.”
Half time:- Ampthill 10 Bedford 14
Referee:- Simon Harding
Man of the Match:- Joe Bercis, Ampthill
Tries: Sutherland (14), Johnson (78)
Cons: Grimoldby (15, 79)
Pens: Costelow (39)
Tries: Lennon (5), Penalty Try (36)
Cons: Hooley (6)
Lineouts Won 6 12
Lineouts Lost 6 0
Scrums Won 4 3
Scrums Lost 0 0
Penalties Conceded 17 8
Yellow Cards 2 1
Lynch 8, Sutherland 7 (Foster 55, 6), Sage 8, Hanks 7 (Bordoli 60, 7), Baker 7, Grimoldby 8, Barrett 8 (Fukofuka 64, 7), Schroder 7 (Tonga’huiha 60, 8), Ward 6 (Blackmore 50, 7), Lutui 7 (Pupuma 50, 7), Burgess 7 (Johnson 53, 8), Kerry 7, Arthur 6, Bercis 8, Molitika 7 (Hudson 53, 7)
Green 7 (Reed 70), Tapley 8, Worley 6 (Smid 48, 6), Hirsky-Douglas 7, Hutler 6, Hooley 7, Lennon 7 (Hart 60, 6), McCarthy 7 (Wrafter 58, 6), Smith 7 (Smid 66, 7) , Paul 7 (Boye 60, 6), Onojaife 7, Carrick-Smith 7, Buggea 7, Atkinson 7 (Curry 55, 6), Temm 8 (Faosiliva 53, 7)