1stXV Ends Rotherham Winning Run
Ampthill welcomed Rotherham to Olney Field on a dry, partly cloudy afternoon with a strong wind blowing in favour of the visitors in the first half.
The forward packs were evenly matched in the tight with nether side gaining much advantage at the scrummage or line out, however the home side’s back row, working in tandem, had an advantage at the breakdown. Ampthill’s backs, however, made frequent line breaks and always looked threatening while the visitors struggled by comparison.
Amps opened the scoring on 3 minutes with a fine try from left wing Sam Baker who took an inside pass from fly half Josh Sharp and beat three defenders to cross under the posts, Sharp adding the extras.
A’s were confident behind the scrum, so much so that when open side Joe Bercis turned the ball over in his own red zone, Sharp chose to attack from behind the home posts, 95m later, after an extraordinary passage of backs play, the attack was stopped illegally resulting in a yellow card to Rotherham’s left wing.
The visitor’s defence was up to the task, resisting the hosts attacking play and they gradually came back into the game, spurning two or three kickable penalty chances seeking tries instead but Ampthill’s defence was in turn resolute. Eventually, on 33 minutes, they chose to take the points on offer (Abrahams) to reduce the deficit.
Amps were attacking right up to half time with desperate Rotherham defence holding out leaving the score 7-3 at oranges.
The second half began with a simple try for the visitors after a missed tackle in midfield saw their centre, Cooke, carry defenders over the line and Rotherham take a narrow lead.
Much of the rest of the game was played inside the visitor’s half but their defence held out until the 63rd minute when, after multiple phases in the red zone, scrum half Euan McKirdy sniped from close range, Sharp converting.
On 70 minutes, Sharp converted a penalty goal from 45m to extend the lead to more than one score before, 78 minutes, he broke the line on the 22 to touch down just to the left of the posts then hit the post with his conversion.
A’s played out the remaining time without being threatened to record their third victory in a row.
This was a fine 80 minute performance from Ampthill with the forwards matching their visitors while the backs were rampant, in truth a bonus point win would have been fair on the balance of play.
Ampthill head coach Paul Turner commented “This was the best performance of the season against a very good Rotherham side. The backs threatened to run riot in the first half, lost their way at the beginning of the second before finishing the game clinically. A four try bonus point was available given the number of opportunities created but the Titans were well organised backing up their recent form.
Credit to our players who stuck to the game plan showing just what they are capable of, the last three weeks have seen Ampthill back to their best.”
Tries:- Baker (2), McKirdy (63), Sharp (78)
Conversions:- Sharp (3, 64)
Penalty Goals:- Sharp (70)
Tries:- Cooke (42)
Penalty Goals:- Abrahams (33)
Half Time:- Ampthill 7 Rotherham 3
Referee:- George Selwood
Man of the Match:- Joe Bercis, Ampthill