1stXV 24 Rosslyn Park 15, Match Report, Sep 03
Ampthill welcomed Rosslyn Park to Olney Field on a cloudy afternoon with a string wind blowing mainly across the pitch from the west. Soon after the game kicked off the drizzle increased eventually becoming a downpour during the second half leading to numerous handling errors. Amps first squad of the new season saw debuts in the starting XV and from the bench for a number of the summer signings.
A’s began on the backfoot against the wind conceding a 3rd minute converted try from a well executed catch & drive, something that became a feature of the game as the visitors seemed happy to employ the tactic almost exclusively.
On 7 minutes fy half Joseph Tarrant kicked a penalty goal from in front of the posts after Park were penalised at a breakdown. The next 20 minutes saw a ferocious battle up front between two large and physical packs, neither gaining the upper hand in any phase of the game. On 30 minutes, with the hosts camped in Rosslyn Park’s 22, scrum half Gavin Williams sniped from close range for a try converted by Tarrant.
Despite much effort from both sides the scoreboard wasn’t troubled in the remainder of the half leaving Ampthill 10-7 ahead at the break.
The second half began in similar manner with both packs tearing into each other but Amps began to get the upper hand in the scrummage leading to a number of kickable penalty goal chances with Tarrant adding 3pts on 44 & 50 minutes and full back Steffan Jones another on 63 minutes, this one from inside his own half! In the meantime Park added a penalty goal of their own leaving the score 19-10.
With 15 minutes left on the clock and the visitors on the attack the home side were reduced to 13 players within 2 minutes when first openside Joseph Bercis received a yellow card followed almost immediately to the bin by Jones.
Rosslyn Park battered the Ampthill line with a series of catch & drives but the hosts defence was outstanding, time after time driving them back and simply refusing to concede. On 77 minutes, however, the line was breached from yet another catch & drive followed by pick & goes for an unconverted try.
Now restored to a full complement A’s were back in the visitors 22 when a turnover gave debutant lock Nicholas Isiekwe a run in wide on the right, Tarrant’s conversion striking the right hand upright with the last play of the game.
Given the conditions this was a wholly entertaining game between two very good sides and a marvellous advert for National 1 rugby.
Ampthill Head Coach Paul Turner commented “This was the best defensive performance since I became coach, everyone made outstanding contributions in very difficult conditions. We beat a very good Rosslyn Park side that willbe challenging for honours at the end of the season. A titanic struggle upfront just shaded by our magnificent pack.”
Rosslyn Park Head Coach Andy Holloway commented ” Both sides made mistakes in the conditions but Ampthill turned ours into points. The first half was disappointing, playing with the wind our discipline was lacking, in the second half I felt we might have sneaked the game but fair play to Ampthill’s defence, they kept us out for the majority of the time they were men down. A great battle up front.”
Tries:- Williams (29), Isiewke (80)
Conversions:- Tarrant (30)
Penalties:- Tarrant (7, 44, 50), Jones (63)
Tries:- Bellamy (3), Piper (16)
Conversions:- Sneddon (10)
Penalties:- Leonard (59)
Half Time:- 10-7
Referee:- Ben Blaine
Star Man:- Ben Earl