Cambridge Defence Suffocates 1stXV
Ampthill welcomed Cambridge to Olney Field on a dreary, wet & gusty afternoon with persistent rain for all but the last few minutes of the game.
Amps squad saw 5 changes from that which defeated Esher the week before with Jon Kpoku* coming in at lock and George De Cothi at scrum half in the starting XV. From the bench, hooker Samson Ma’asi^, son of former Ampthill Captain and founder member of the Amps Tongan dynasty Vili, back row Sean Reffell* and outside backs cover Elliott Obaytoyinbo* all made their debuts.
A’s started well taking the game to the visitors and the lead on 6 minutes with a straight forward penalty goal. Unfortunately, the control exhibited for the first 10 minutes was not to be maintained as the visitors, having beaten Ampthill home & away the previous season simply gave a defensive master class with their tactical approach and commitment denying Amps any real scoring opportunities.
With the balance of play now in Cambridge’s favour they drew level in the 29th minute with a penalty goal from fly half Rory Penfold.
The conditions were very difficult but It appeared that neither side could hold on to the ball as handling errors provided regular turnovers. As time ran out in the first half, the hosts, deep inside the visitor’s 22, dropped a pass which was fly hacked forward.
After a length of the field chase and despite three home players dropping on the ball at various points, Amps failed to clear the danger allowing visiting hooker Alex Rayment to crash over by the right corner flag in the 39th minute, Penfold adding a fine touchline conversion leaving the score 3-10 at oranges.
The second half began with Cambridge extending their lead on 46 minutes with another penalty goal from Penfold.
Ampthill dominated territory & possession for the remainder of the half but never looked like scoring as Cambridge repeatedly rebuffed red zone opportunities while frequently disrupting Amps lineout.
A’s got what they deserved particularly as they enjoyed 20 minutes with a man advantage due to yellow cards to the visitors during which they were outscored by Cambridge 0-7. An extremely disappointing performance in which the lessons from the two games the previous season seemed to have not been learned.
Amps consolation penalty goal came in the 64th minute from Wilson but three more kick-able penalty goal chances were discarded in favour of kicks to the corner where either the ensuing lineouts or the drives were disrupted.
Great credit must go to Cambridge as yet again, they outplayed and out thought Ampthill for 70 minutes.
DoR Mark Lavery commented “We were tactically naive, playing the game in all the wrong places. Our lineout remains a serious problem but fair play to Cambridge, they matched us physically and took their chances.”
*Dual registered with Saracens, ^Dual registered with Northampton Saints
Penalty Goals:- Wilson (6, 64)
Tries:- Rayment (39)
Conversions:- Penfold (40)
Penalty Goals:- Penfold (29, 45)
Half Time:- Ampthill 3 Cambridge 10
Referee:- Daniel Collins
Man of the Match:- Rob Conquest, Cambridge