1stXV Record Bonus Point Win Over Bishops Stortford After Resisting 2nd Half Fight Back
Bishops Stortford arrived at a dry, overcast Dillingham Park with a westerly breeze to find a dusty pitch, more rain please.
Ampthill began well despite conceding the first possession, a break on 5 minutes through the centre from fly half Josh Sharp saw his shoulder ball find wing Sam Baker who split the defence. Lock Jon Kpoku was in support to take the offload on the visitors 22 and gallop through to score under the posts, full back James Pritchard adding the extras.
Just 4 minutes later Amps were penalised at a ruck in front of the posts allowing Stortford scrum half Tom Banks to kick the first of 4 penalty goals.
A period of parity followed before slick passing from A’s backs on 19 minutes eventually saw Baker clear on the left to scamper over out wide for an unconverted try.
Banks repeated his penalty goal on 29 minutes after Amps infringed again resulting an even easier 3pts.
On 35 minutes the home side was awarded a penalty try after a 5m scrum was collapsed as it crossed the line but Bishops Stortford hit back again with the last kick of the half as Banks maintained his kicking level leaving the score 19-9 at oranges.
The second half saw Banks kick his 4th penalty goal on 42 minutes before wing Spencer Sutherland extended the hosts lead and secured the bonus point on 45 minutes by scampering round towards the posts from the right, Pritchard successful with the conversion.
Pritchard then extended the lead with a penalty goal on 50 minutes. This was the signal for the visitors to throw caution to the winds and the ball around hitting back first on 60 minutes with a fine unconverted try from replacement Vunipola and then almost immediately adding another from hooker Declan Caulfield converted by Banks.
With Stortford’s tails up and the lead down to just 1 score Ampthill had to raise their game, both defensively and in attack. The 69th minute saw replacement scrum half Euan McKirdy break blind and execute a perfectly weighted grubber for Sutherland to chase, harass the defence and dive on the loose ball wide on the right, Pritchard’s conversion holding up against the breeze.
The referee played 5 minutes of overtime forcing Amps to defend for their lives for 15 minutes as the visitors threw everything at them but managed to hold out to the final whistle.
After a good first half A’s allowed Bishops Stortford to play their game in the second and could have paid the price!
Head Coach Paul Turner comments “A good first half saw us lead 19-9 but we failed to maximise our opportunities, we really should of had the bonus point before half time. Bishops Stortford are a very good side as their 5 consecutive bonus point wins prior to today indicated. We outscored them 5 tries to 2 but were under pressure late in the second half and had to produce a real team effort to subdue them.“