1stXV 25 Loughborough Students 3, Sat Jan 14, 2017
Ampthill welcomed Loughborough Students to Dillingham Park on a bright chilly afternoon after morning rain.
There were a number of changes to the side that lost at Mowden Park the previous week, up front, Josh Walker (lock) and Ben Earl (flanker) returned from injury and Saracens duties respectively, Will Goodge and Sam Hanks formed a more familiar centre partnership while Jonny Morgan made his first start this season at wing.
On the bench, prop Chris Muncaster and scrum half Ben Calder returned from the 1881s, Matt Burke recovered from the knock which kept him out last week while centre Orisi Nawakaliva rotates.
Both packs won their own ball at set piece while the loose, though very competitive, was generally controlled by the home side. Much of the first half was played deep inside Students territory with the hosts turning the ball over in scoring positions. The second half was even apart from a 10 minute purple patch for the home side who scored two fine tries through the backs and could have had more.
Ampthill took the lead on 3 minutes with a simple penalty goal from fly half Joe Tarrant and extended the lead 4 minutes later with an unconverted try from wing Sam Baker who grounded fly half Joe Tarrant’s red zone grubber.
Amps dominated territory and possession but were denied time and again by strong defence and poor execution until the 39th minute when, after multiple phases from the forwards and backs prop Brett Sturgess took the final pass to crash over by the right corner flag, Tarrant’s conversion cannoning back off the upright leaving the score 13-5 at oranges.
The first 15 minutes of the second half was similar to much of the first before Amps suddenly clicked into gear producing an unplayable 10 minutes scoring first through centre Hanks on 55 minutes, full back Stef Jones converting from the touch line and then, just 4 minutes later, Jones himself adding a try which he failed to convert.
Loughborough began to attack from everywhere but one of the best home defensive displays of the season kept them out, even in a couple of goal line stands.
All A’s tries were ‘backs’ tries, even Sturgess’ since he was gulling around on the wing.
Head Coach Paul Turner commented “An excellent team performance with the forward group outstanding, particularly the back row including replacement Reece Marshall, normally a hooker but pressed into service at blindside, while the backs finished well. Loughborough are a very good side with a strong offence but they never looked like crossing white wash.”
Tries:- Baker (13), Sturgess (39), Hanks (55), Jones (59)
Conversions:- Tarrant (56)
Penalty Goals:- Tarrant (9)
Penalty Goal:- Waters (26)
Half Time:- Ampthill 13 Loughborough Students 5
Man of the Match:- Joe Bercis