Ampthill Triumph Despite Last Kick-Of-The-Game Drama
Rosslyn Park arrived at Dillingham Park on a dry, sunny day with a gentle northerly breeze to find a dusty pitch, let’s hope it rains soon.
The top of the table clash resulted in Ampthill’s biggest crowd of the season just beating that against Old Elthamians. Amps, 5 points clear of OEs in 2nd and 6pts clear of Park in 3rd going in to the game knew that promotion to the championship would be assured if they won their remaining 4 fixtures but were taking nothing for granted expecting a very tough examination from todays visitors.
A’s produced one of the worst first half performances of the season as Rosslyn Park were superior in every phase of the game, in particular Park’s defence was outstanding, keeping the home side so quiet that their only possession in the visitors 22 came in the last minute of the half. However, the second half saw the hosts raise their game eventually pressurising Rosslyn Park into conceding penalty after penalty in the red zone before scoring two tries in the last 5 minutes. Even then Park, who surely did enough to secure the win over the 80 minutes, had a last kick of the game penalty goal chance which slid wide to much celebration from all home connections.
The visitors openside Arthur Ellis opened the scoring in the 9th minute, intercepting an unnecessary pass on the Ampthill 22 and scampering around under the posts, fly half Greg Lound adding the extras.
Almost from the kick off Amps were penalised at a breakdown and Lound made no mistake with the penalty goal.
On 21 minutes, Rosslyn Park’s lock Jonathan Mills barged over from close range after a series of red zone phases, Lound again adding the conversion.
The 26th minute saw Lound successful with another penalty goal to extend Park’s lead to 20 points.
Despite much effort A’s were unable to trouble the scoreboard in the remainder of the half leaving the score at oranges 0-20.
Whatever was said at half time the hosts looked a different team as the second half began, forcing the visitors to defend for long periods while controlling territory & possession. Rosslyn Park’s defence held firm.
Park were now under the cosh, the resulting pressure inside their red zone seeing a series of penalties given against them until a yellow card to prop Nick Lovell on 52 minutes leading to the first spell of uncontested scrums.
The 56th minute saw the hosts replacement hooker Syd Blackmore came up with the ball from a catch & drive, just about the first time in the game that either side made ground with a maul. Fly half Josh Sharp adding the conversion.
The home side continued to turn the screw resulting in further yellow cards to visiting scrum half Jack Gash (74) & wing Charlie Amesbury (76) as he illegally prevented a certain try under the posts from open play, the referee awarding a penalty try.
With the vistors down to 13 players Ampthill were inspired to produce their best rugby of the game as a series of interchanges between backs & forwards saw Sharp touch down under the posts, full back James Pritchard’s successful conversion the signal for much celebration as Amps took the lead for the first time in the 78th minute.
There was still time for the Rosslyn Park’s depleted team to recover the kick off and produce multiple phases from the forwards slowly gaining ground until A’s were penalised at a breakdown 40m out in front of the post. Replacement kicker Oliver Grove stepped up for the last kick of the game penalty goal attempt which drifted agonisingly wide of the posts in his ‘Stuart Pearce’ moment.
In a game truly of two halves Ampthill were lucky to come second in the first but turned it around with a controlled display in the second before that final kick drama produced a moment that only sport at it’s finest can!
Ampthill Director of Rugby Mark Lavery comments “We got out of jail after being comprehensively outplayed by Rosslyn Park in the first half. This could easily have been the banana skin that ruined 10 years of hard work. Park were the best side seen this year at Dillingham Park and definitely did not deserve to lose. However, we did win, we are still top and managed to find the victory despite playing poorly.”
Rosslyn Park Head Coach Kieran Power commented “Against a formidable Ampthill side we had a good first half where we might have taken more points but a 20 pt lead should have been the platform to kick on and secure the game. Ampthill kept the ball in the second half, stopped us playing and forced the errors while our injury count didn’t help. National 1 is a great spectacle, we should be proud of the game we are creating.”
Tries:- Blackmore (56), Penalty Try (76), Sharp (78)
Conversions:- Sharp (57), Pritchard (79)
Tries:- Ellis A (9), Mills (21)
Conversions:- Lound (10, 22)
Penalty Goals:- Lound (13, 26)
Half Time:- Ampthill 0 Rosslyn Park 20
Referee:- Mr Calum Howard
Man of the Match:- Sam Hanks, Ampthill
Ampthill Rosslyn Park
Scrums Won 10 3
Scrums Lost 0 0
Lineouts Won 7 7
Lineouts Lost 9 1
Penalties Against 8 18
Sin Bin 0 3