Ampthill’s Loss To Coventry Is A Major Learning Experience
Ampthill welcomed Coventry to Olney Field for their first ever match at Level 2 on a cloudless sunny afternoon with a stiff south easterly breeze in favour of the visitors for the first half.
With the club house doubled in size by the addition of a large marquee bar and major infrastructure changes obvious around the pitch it was clear to both home and away spectators that significant investment had been made in the close season in preparation for the Greene King IPA Championship.
The hosts connections were aware that the visitors had recruited well adding 8 players with Premiership and/or Pro 12 experience to their squad over the summer while their pre-season preparation included 4 games of which the only loss came against Leinster!
Meanwhile the home squad would be having their first run out with 11 players making their debut including forwards coach Dave Ward & backs coach Darryl Veenendahl.
The game began with a fine line break from home fly half Josh Sharp who sliced through the Coventry defence in mid-field leaving a simple pass to one of two supporting runners for an obvious opening score, sadly the pass went astray and the chance went begging. Little did Amps spectators realise that that flurry would be the last time Amps would threaten to score until the last few minutes of the first half.
A demonstration of power and ruthless finishing followed in which the visitors scored 6 unanswered tries capitalising on a series of unforced errors combined with ill-discipline from A’s who were regularly penalised at the breakdown, knocking on and missing tackles. In short the first half was a horror show for the hosts leaving the score 3-40 at oranges, Ampthill’s last kick of the half penalty goal being greeted with cheers.
After an appropriate talking to at half time Amps second half was much better, dominating possession and territory for much of the half. A’s outscored their hosts 14-7 and probably should have had a couple more tries. Coventry’s defence was outstanding, however, despite being on the back foot most of the time.
Amps line out struggled until the last quarter while their scrummage was under pressure. A’s benefited from the first half game time and were much more competitive in the second despite playing the last 15 minutes or so with 14 players after an emptied bench and a subsequent injury to Captain Billy Johnson.
Next week Ampthill travel to Ealing for what will likely be another stiff lesson.
Director of Rugby Mark Lavery comments “Firstly I thought Coventry were absolutely fantastic in the first forty minutes demonstrating how to put pressure on the team in possession and then capitalise on the errors of which there were many.
We shouldn’t forget Coventry have only been beaten once in pre-season against the second best team in Europe Leinster so it was always going to be a massive ask today.
In the first half we lacked composure and this led to a lot of errors whilst playing in the wrong areas. Our discipline went and Coventry were clinical in their execution leaving us rightly down 3-40.
The second half was a different story and when you consider that we played 17 minutes with 14 men because our bench had been emptied when Captain Billy Johnson had to go off injured it was a lot more encouraging.
A really good exercise while a number of the starting XV will have to take a long hard look at themselves having plenty to work on while in the second period the bench brought real energy and dynamism to the contest.
We should also remember we have come up against a battle hardened Coventry side and its our first run out so lots of positives and things we can improve.
A’s have very different targets to Coventry this season so we will dust ourselves down and reset this week before we prepare to play the reigning Champions Ealing Trailfinders next week on the road.
I know what your thinking but don’t, its all part of our journey, come on Amps!
Thank you to our army of volunteers who worked tirelessly to make sure we were ready for the weekend and thank you to all the travelling Coventry support for being so patient whilst we dealt with some organisational issues in our first game we have played in the Championship Cup.”
15 Bordoli Serafin, 13 Sage Jarryd, 12 Hanks Samuel, 11 Baker Nigel (Sam), 10 Sharp Joshua, 9 Veenendaal Darryl, 8 Molitika Maama, 7 Bercis Joseph, 6 Langley Robert, 5 Johnson Billy, 4 Williams Henri, 3 Collins Matthew, 2 Ward David, 1 Foulkes Thomas
16 Blackmore Sydney, 17 Lutui Aleki, 18 Christie Ben, 19 Kerry Shay, 20 Dominguez Gatell Facundo, 21 Williams Gavin, 22 Grimoldby Louis, 23 Foster Will
Tries:- Bercis (47), Lutui (70)
Conversions:- Sharp (48), Grimoldby (71)
Penalties:- Sharp (40)
15 Stokes James, 13 Stevens Heath, 12 Owen William, 11 Bulumakau Ratu, 10 Jennings Rory, 9 Kessell Thomas, 8 Burrows Ryan, 7 Ram Jack, 6 Peters Adam, 5 Woolford Alexander, 4 Voss James, 3 Denman Gareth, 2 Dawidiuk Darren, 1 Gibbons James
16 Tolmie Scott, 17 Trinder Toby, 18 Boulton Philip, 19 Oram George, 20 Nayalo Senitki, 21 White Peter, 22 Maisey William, 23 Knox Robert
Tries:- Denman (3), Kessels (11), Bulumakau (13, 15), Woolford (23), Dawdiuk (36), Nayalo (76)
Conversions:- Jennings (4, 12, 14, 16, 24, 76)
Half Time:- Ampthill 0 Coventry 40
Ampthill Man of the Match:- Joe Bercis
Referee:- Michael Hudson
Attendance :- 874