1stXV 17 Blackheath 31, Match Report, Sat Oct 15, 2016
Ampthill welcomed Blackheath for their second ever visit to Dillingham Park on a dry, sunny but chilly afternoon with perfect playing conditions.
A game of the proverbial two halves saw Amps just shade the first in what appeared to be a battle between two sides intent on maximising their error count while thoroughly losing the second as A’s continued a mistake strewn performance while ‘Club’ largely cut out theirs outscoring their hosts by four tries to one. The home side had the better of the scrummage for much of the game but their lineout failed to function.
Blackheath were clinical and accurate in the second half converting opportunities ruthlessly while Ampthill were the exact opposite, spurning good chances to score through an inability to control the ball, particularly at the breakdown.
The game began with ‘Club’ on the front foot, in fact much of the first 15 minutes of the game was played inside, on or around Amps 22, however, A’s defence held firm, nullifying the visitor’s catch & drive.
In the 13th minute, on almost their first foray into Blackheath territory the home side took the lead through wing Pete Weightman who finished an 8 to 9 to 14 move from a wide scrum on the right, fly half Stef Jones adding the extras off the post.
Another 15 minutes of stalemate followed with neither side seemingly able to string a series of phases together as dropped and forward passes, knock ons and kicks from hand out on the full kept play between the 22s until the 27th minute when ‘Club’ fashioned an opportunity scoring an unconverted try through Fred Owen wide on the left.
The visitors had the better of the remainder of the half forcing the hosts to defend a series of 5m lineouts right up to the whistle leaving the score 7-5 at oranges.
The second half began with Ampthill on the attack but they failed to trouble the scoreboard despite phase after phase deep in Blackheath’s 22 before another error turnover gave ‘Club’ the chance to take play up the other end of the field. The visitors scrum half Jack Walsh, who was a thorn in both Amps side and the referee’s ear all game, took advantage to dummy his way across the line under the posts in the 50th minute, the extras added by inside centre Mark Cooke.
This was the signal for an A’s defensive melt down for 15 minutes similar to that against Mowden Park as the visitors ran in three more tries, the first two two converted by Cooke, through Captain and outside centre Marcus Burcham, making his 100th appearance for Blackheath who broke the line some 40m out in mid-field to score under the posts, followed by a penalty try after the home side was adjudged to have brought down a maul in the red zone and an unconverted try through fullback Leo Fielding.
In between Jones converted a penalty goal on 62 minutes before left wing Sam Baker had the last word on 69 minutes touching down wide on the left after good inter-passing between backs and forwards.
The game rather fizzled out as both sides emptied their benches.
On the day Ampthill were well beaten by a better side, if only some of those first half chances had been taken.
Ampthill head coach Paul Turner commented “There were too many individual errors and four tries conceded in 17 minutes is unacceptable. Whilst I was unhappy with their first try which I thought had an obvious crossing it wouldn’t have made much difference as we were well beaten by a smarter, more streetwise side who controlled the breakdown”
Blackheath Director of Rugby Colin Ridgway commented “Very pleasing to come to Ampthill, always an abrasive opponent, and secure a bonus point win. I thought our players showed great character with Marcus Burcham, in his 100th appearance, leading by example.”
Tries:- Weightman (13), Baker (67)
Conversions:- Jones (14, 68)
Penalty:- Jones (62)
Tries:- Owen (27), Walsh (50), Burcham (57), Penalty Try (64), Fielding (67)
Conversions:- Cooke (51, 58, 65)
Half Time:- Ampthill 7 Blackheath 5
Man of the Match:- Marcus Burcham
Referee:- Gareth Holsgrove