Ampthill Head Coach Paul Turner lamented his side’s errors which cost victory against Doncaster Knights in the Championship opener – but declared there were “positives to be taken”.
Sam Olver slotted a conversion with four minutes to go after Kyle Evans found scored against the twice sin-binned hosts, securing a 19-17 win.
Ampthill led three times through Joe Bercis, Joe Roberts and Alex Humfrey tries but the fly-half’s four penalty kicks kept them in contention.
Turner said “During our preparation this week we talked about minimizing error count on both sides of the ball. It was a game that we could have won but our error count with or without the ball simply wasn’t good enough”
Knights came out of the blocks firing, earning a penalty after eight minutes from James Flynn’s side entry at a ruck which Olver dispatched.
It was mirrored on the opposite side 14 minutes later, Louis Grimoldby caught out by a fast Knights move.
But Ampthill found their feet after half an hour as quick hands set up Bercis to dot down from a short distance, the fly-half converting.
Knights took the lead into halftime, though, when an offside allowed Olver to get a hat-trick.
But the Dillingham Park side came out firing as a lob from Matt Marsh saw Evans spill from Humphrey’s huge hit, Roberts landing on the ball for a scoring debut. Captain Grimoldby could not find the posts though to keep it a three-point game.
And Ampthill were put on the back foot when Jarryd Sage’s high tackle earned a sin-bin on 56 minutes, leading to a fourth Olver penalty.
But it was the home side that scored next, Humfrey taking a superb back-hand offload from the Ampthill winger and charging to the corner on the hour.
With a five-point lead, the hosts were then put to the sword at a Doncaster scrum 10 minutes later.
Referee Simon Harding punished Humfrey for tapping the ball out of James Mitchell’s hand before showing yellow to Alex Pleasants with nine minutes left.
While the 13 men defended bravely, they were eventually worn down as Evans was found on the right-wing and Olver slotted the extras for victory.
Speaking after his first Championship game in charge, Knights head coach Steve Boden said: “The biggest thing I’m really pleased with is that we would have lost that game at points last year. We showed some real spirit and desire. Coming here was a big test of our environment and team spirit – we showed that in abundance.”
“Did we show quality? No, we didn’t, but we showed the fundamentals. We were gritty and tough, grinding out the win. Winning is winning, so we’ll enjoy it but we know we’re going to be 1,000 times better to get anywhere near Coventry.”
Tries: Bercis 28, Roberts J 43, Humfrey 60
Cons: Grimoldby 29
Sin Bins: Sage 56, Humfrey 68, Pleasants 71
Team (15-9/1-8): Hudson T; Brown, Roberts J, Sage (Hallett 67), Sutherland (Flynn 71); Grimoldby ©, Marsh (Law 53); Flynn (Pleasants 56), Ward (Blackmore 56), Lutui (Beaton 67); Beckett, Jones (Johnson 59); Humfrey, Bercis, Hudson S (Onojaife 46)
Subs not used: Bennett
Tries: Evans 76
Cons: Olver 77
Pens: Olver 8, 22, 36, 56
Team (15-9/1-8): Bacon (McBryde 64); Evans, Newey (Foley 48), Best, Spittle; Olver, Mitchell; Hislop © (Cade 73), Roberts G (Holling 52), Denman (Jones 46); Britton (Challinor 64), Smith (Sexton 48); Kelly, Graham, Volpi
Subs not used: Cullen
Penalties conceded: 11-8
Line outs won: 5-3
Line outs lost: 0-3
Scrums won: 2-3
Scrums lost: 0-0
Sin Bins: 3-0
Red Cards: 0-0
Referee: Simon Harding
Comfort Homecare Man of the Match: Joe Bercis (Ampthill)