1stXV 35 Cambridge 12, Sat Apr 22, 2017, National 1
Ampthill welcomed near neighbours Cambridge to a sunlit Dillingham Park on fine spring afternoon with perfect underfoot conditions. Amps squad saw an unchanged pack, in the backs Gavin Williams returned at scrum half while the bench saw a debut for prop Toby Trinder, dual registered with Northampton Saints and the return of flanker Loti Molitika.
The bumper crowd were entertained from start to finish by the ambition of the visitors while the hosts were clinical when opportunities presented themselves.
A’s opened the scoring in the 1st minute with wing Sam Baker crossing for the first of a brace after multiple phases in the red zone had stretched the Cambridge defence, fly half Stef Jones adding the first of 5 conversions for a 100% record from the tee.
Cambridge responded with vigour, moving the ball at every opportunity and forcing the home side to defend for long periods. Eventually, on 10 minutes, after sustained pressure deep in the hosts 22 a mid-field break saw an offload to centre James Ayrton who crossed to left of the posts for a try converted by fly half Jack Green.
The next 20 minutes found Ampthill on the back foot, defending continuously against a precise and aggressive opposition who benefitted from Amps inability to complete their exits. Time and again the defence turned the ball over but the clearing kick often saw a quick throw immediately putting them back under the cosh.
Having not had a look in since the Cambridge equaliser, A’s scored a fine try on 28 minutes through number 8 Maama Molitika who was in support to finish after a fluent move in which backs & forwards combined had taken the ball from deep in their own 22 to the other end of the field.
On 37 minutes a catch & drive saw hooker Aleki Lutui come up with the ball after crossing wide on the left for the hosts 3rd converted try leaving the score 27-7 at oranges.
The second half began in a similar pattern, the home side defending well against continuous pressure before another break and good support left wing Pete Weightman free on the right to cross unopposed on 48 minutes for the bonus point try.
The visitors never altered their expansive game plan and were rewarded in the 69th minute with an unconverted try from full back Oliver Pertrides.
That set the seen for a last 10 minutes with Ampthill defending for their lives as wave after wave of Cambridge attacks were repelled. With the home side down a man and the visitors pressing for another score a turnover deep in the home 22 saw a break by replacement Sam Hanks eventually leading to Baker’s 79th minute second try under the posts. Jones’ conversion, the only ‘easy’ one was the last action of the game as referee Benjamin Davies blew for no side.
Clinical in attack and effective in defence, this was a curates egg performance from Ampthill as the other sides in National 1 would have punished the frequency with which Amps gave the ball to the opposition.
Tries:- Baker (1, 79), Molitka (28), Lutui (37), Weightman (48)
Conversion:- Jones (2, 29, 38,49, 79)
Tries Aryton J (10), Petrides (68)
Conversion:- Green (11)