Ampthill’s Second Half Sees Off Blackheath
Ampthill welcomed Blackheath to Dillingham Park on a dry, sunny and warm afternoon with a gentle breeze, the pitch reflecting the dry summer.
Amps squad saw 3 changes from that which lost at Plymouth Albion with Carl Burgess coming in at lock, Kevin Barrett at scrum half and Cieran Whyte providing outside backs cover on the bench.
A’s started well taking the game to the visitors and the lead on 11 minutes with a fine backs try wide on the left after good hands had put wing Sam Baker in space, centre Mickey Wilson adding the extras from the touchline against the wind.
Almost straight from the kick off Blackheath replied with a penalty goal by full back, Ampthill youth graduate and former 1stXV star Elliot Clements-Hill.
Full back Will Foster extended Amps lead on 15 minutes weaving his way to the line leaving a trail of defenders in his wake, Wilson converting from in front of the posts.
The home side then got on the wrong side of the referee being penalised repeatedly, at one point there were 6 consecutive sets of phases with the hosts being penalised in 5 of them!
The result was two tries for the visitors, the first from a catch & drive (25 minutes) and the second from a series of close range pick & goes through former Ampthill 1stXV prop Tom Williams (36 minutes). Clements-Hill converted both leaving the score 14-17 at oranges and the game finely poised.
The second half began with a bang with a fine try by lock Burgess in support of a break by flanker Joe Bercis, Wilson adding the extras.
Clements-Hill finished a backs try wide on the right in the 53rd minute to regain the lead for Blackheath but failed to land the conversion.
Ampthill retook the lead for good on 56 minutes with tries from Bercis after great skill from Wilson regathering his own ‘Garry Owen’ and a classic 25m catch & drive scored by hooker Aleki Lutui in the 69th minute.
The final 10 minutes saw Blackheath camped on the Ampthill goal line but great defence prevented them troubling the scoreboard leaving the final score 33-22.
Blackheath provided stiff opposition, scoring 2 tries from catch & drives and 1 from close range, their backs however, seemed unable to get behind the A’s defense unlike their rivals who had multiple line breaks. Amps positives include the first cohesive display of the season from the backs with fine performances from fly half Mikey Waters, centre Wilson and full back Foster.
In addition to those mentioned above, Blackheath’s Henry Staff (Ampthill Mini & Youth) and Stef Liebenburg (1stXV) added to the former player connection.
Finally, our best wishes for an early recovery to former Amps 1stXV fly half Joe Tarrant who would no doubt have added to the former Ampthill players connection for the visitors today had he not been ill, get well soon Joe.
Ampthill head coach Paul Turner commented “Both sides played some very good rugby when allowed but our forwards gave us the edge in the second half while we were better tactically than at Plymouth. This was a close game until we got more than a score ahead in the last quarter and stepped up defensively. Blackheath will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.”
Tries:- Baker (11), Foster (15), Burgess (42), Bercis(56), Lutui (69)
Conversions:- Wilson (12, 16, 43, 57)
Tries:- Herriott (15), Williams (36), Clements-Hill (53)
Conversions:- Clements-Hill (26, 37, 54)
Penalty Goals:- Clements-Hill (15)
Half Time:- Ampthill 14 Blackheath 17
Referee:- Matt Turvey
Men of the Match:- Kevin Barrett & Mikey Waters, Ampthill