1stXV v Wharfedale, Sat 13th Feb 2016, Match Preview
Ampthill welcome Wharfedale this weekend for their first ever visit to Dillingham Park with all Amps connections keen to match the very warm reception experienced during the reverse fixture back in October.
Promoted to National 1 in 1997-98 this season represents Wharfedale’s 18th consecutive year in the third tier of English rugby and they are justifiably proud of never being relegated since the introduction of league rugby. That first season at level 3, they finished 10th in the table which was topped by Worcester and had Leeds as runners up!
Like Ampthill, they are a community club running four adult sides, a successful colts side and thriving mini & youth sections. They also run an externally sponsored rugby academy which as well as providing a conveyor belt of players for their senior sides also promotes rugby inside a large number of local primary & secondary schools.
This season Wharfedale have had mixed results winning 5 of their 21 games but they have secured 11 bonus points, seven times scoring 4 tries in matches and four times losing by less than 7 pts. Last week, in a remarkable turn around in form, they defeated second in the table Blackheath!
As it appears that in this league, any team can beat any other on their day, Ampthill will need to be at their very best to secure something from this game.
Last week the 1stXV defeated Rosslyn Park 21-5 in what Director of Rugby Mark Lavery described as the best tactical performance of the season, a first half playing against a howling gale saw a remarkable defensive performance from the hosts to lead 5-0 at half time with a further 16 points being added in the second period before the visitors scored a last play of the game consolation try. Having played 20 games, A’s now lie 6th in the league table with a game in hand on those immediately above.
Changes to the squad this week
Forwards – Kennet O’Neill returns to the starting line up at openside flanker.
Backs – Kevin Barrett starts at scrumhalf.
Replacements – Matthew Burke returns as back row cover with Gavin Williams rotating to the bench