1stXV 24 Plymouth Albion 22, Sat Dec 03, 2016, Match Report
It was 5th playing 3rd as Ampthill welcomed Plymouth Albion to Dillingham Park on a dry, cold but partly sunny afternoon with a perfect playing surface.
The game began with Amps in the ascendancy with much of play concentrated in the Albion half, however, regular handling errors and referee’s wrath prevented much continuity while Albion’s defence coped with what there was. Eventually fly half Joseph Tarrant broke the deadlock in the 10th minute with a penalty goal after the visitors were penalised in front of the posts.
With A’s still unable to complete a handful of phases without an error or penalty Plymouth came back into the game scoring a fine try on 21 minutes through fly half Kieran Hallett who added the extras himself.
The hosts redoubled their efforts but yet another error gifted a turnover deep in the Albion half allowing centre Daniel Powell to race 70m to touch down a 34th minute try converted by Hallett.
The 37th minute saw Tarrant convert his second penalty goal after another Plymouth infringement in front of the posts but the home side immediately infringed themselves allowing Hallett to add a 39th minute penalty.
Ampthill’s kick off was tapped back by a maroon & gold hand but somehow the home side contrived to gift the ball to the visitors again with full back Matthew Shepherd taking the final pass to score an unconverted try which again started in their half.
With the score 6-22 at oranges there was no doubt whose connections were happier! It was clear that Amps needed to cut out the errors if they were to get anything from the game and that, by and large, was what happened.
A’s pressure at the beginning of the second half was rewarded with another successful penalty goal by Tarrant on 45 minutes but he failed with a fourth, more difficult attempt a few minutes later.
The 57th minute saw prolific home wing Samuel Baker touch down wide out from close range after more hosts pressure had stretched the hitherto secure visiting defence.
Tarrant then added another penalty goal on 63 minutes to reduce the deficit to one score.
With the home pack now in control in the tight a driving maul was brought down over the line and ruled ‘held up’ much to the irritation of the home faithful whose jeers soon turned to cheers since as the hosts drove the resulting 5m scrummage back over the line they were illegally prevented from touching down and awarded a penalty try giving a simple conversion in the 75th minute.
Now trailing by 2 pts Albion attacked from everywhere matched by Ampthill’s swarming defence until no side was blown several minutes into injury time.
Truly a game of two halves, the hosts were outscored 3 tries to none in the first before 18 unanswered points in the second secured a hard fought win.
Ampthill head coach Paul Turner commented “We played some good rugby in the first half but our error count was unacceptable, despite trailing by 16 points at half time the game was still in reach as a fine second half performance proved. Huge credit to the players who cut out the errors and stepped up defensively as Plymouth Albion stretched us to the limit with their new, expansive style.”
With Albion head coach Dan Parkes away in Dubai hooker Rupert Freestone commented “A good game in which we dominated the scoreboard in the first half and were in turn shut out in the second. Our game management let us down after half time as our error & penalty count increased.
Tries:- Baker (57), Penalty Try (75)
Conversions: -Tarrant (76)
Penalties:- Tarrant (10, 37, 45, 63)
Tries:- Hallett (21), Powell (34), Shepherd (40)
Conversions:- Hallett (22, 35)
Penalties:- Hallett (39)
Referee: – Adam Leal
Half-time: – 6-22
Star man:- Joe Bercis, Ampthill