Ampthill Outscore Cinderford 7 Tries To 2
Ampthill welcomed Cinderford for their first visit to Dillingham Park on dry afternoon after heavy overnight rain, despite the recent inclement weather underfoot conditions were, as usual, excellent.
Amps, with three consecutive away games to come in the rest of January, were determined to take advantage at home and produced the best opening quarter yet seen this season scoring four tries in 20 minutes during which, apart from restarts, Cinderford didn’t have possession once.
A’s kickoff was fielded by the visitors but lively flyhalf Callum Sheedy, on loan from Bristol and catalyst for their escape from a similar perilous league position last season, kicked the ball straight back to the hosts. By the time the visitors next had possession they’d conceded four tries!
First centre Elliott Reeder slipped his cover inside the Cinderford 22 on 6 minutes to touch down mid way between the posts and the left corner flag after the home side had patiently moved the ball through multiple phases, building pressure until the defence was stretched, fulback James Pritchard adding the extras.
Straight from the kickoff Ampthill were back in the same mold building pressure and forcing a penalty kicked for the corner. The visitors defended the catch & drive well but had no answer when left wing George Elliot took a short ball in mid-field outside their 22 and stepped his way to the line past three defenders for a fine individual try in the 9th minute, Pritchard adding the extras from an almost identical position as his first.
The third try followed on 16 minutes after more patient build up from the forwards eventually resulted in a 5m scrum in front of the posts after scrum half Gavin Williams had been driven over the line only to be held up. Cinderford disrupted the scrum feed but the ball was eventually moved through the hands to Pritchard who drew the last defender and fed right wing Jonathan Morgan for an unconverted try wide on the right.
With the kickoff again secured Amps were delighting the crowd with their offloading skills and were soon back in the visitors half winning another penalty, this time for a scrum offence, which was kicked to the corner. Unlike previous attempts the catch & drive was set and driven over on 20 minutes for Maama Molitika to touch down to the right of the posts and secure the bonus point, Pritchard converting.
At 26-0 after the first quarter Cinderford would have been forgiven had their heads dropped but despite A’s again gathering the restart they regrouped , and for the first time, secured and retained possession for a few phases before a turnover saw the hosts on the attack in centre field. However a home side speculative pass on half way was intercepted by centre Samuel Hanks who raced under the posts for a 29th minute try converted by Sheedy.
Having been nearly error free thus far the home side’s level dropped while the visitors, encouraged by their score, began to force mistakes leading to the remainder of the half being much more even leaving the score 26-7 at oranges.
The second half began as the first finished with Cinderford seeing plenty of the ball but a 54th minute catch & drive from the hosts resulted in repeated phases close to the visitors line and a converted score for openside flanker Matthew Burke, making his 137th appearance for Ampthill in the national leagues and becoming Amps most capped national league player in the process.
Just two minutes later, the visitors responded in similar fashion with a well constructed maul securing a converted try for replacement front row Thomas Bozzard.
The last quarter saw the visitors throw caution to the wind and run the ball from everywhere producing some entertaining open field breaks and forcing the hosts to defend but it was the home side who scored two further tries through blindside flanker Darrel Dyer (60 mins) and flyhalf Joseph Tarrant (73 mins), Pritchard converting the former and Elliot the latter.
DoR Mark Lavery commented “An outstanding opening period was followed by an understandable drop off in intensity, Cinderford made us work hard in the second half.”
Head Coach Paul Turner commented “A real team performance with the pack outstanding, now we must focus on our difficult run of away fixtures for the rest of the month”
Tries:- Reeder (5), Elliot (9), Morgan (16), Molitika (20), Burke (54), Dyer (60), Tarrant (73)
Conversions:- Pritchard (6, 10, 21, 55, 61), Elliot (74)
Tries:- Hanks (29), Bozzard (56)
Conversions:- Sheedy (30, 57)
Half Time:- 26-7
Referee:- Steven Lee
Star Man:- Matthew Burke