Ampthill hosted Hitchin on an unseasonably warm and sultry afternoon. Our pre-match pundit Russell Spur, sitting decisively on the fence, divined that the match ‘would be 50/50’, and his incisive declaration turned out to be surprisingly accurate.
The first half was scoreless. Hitchin were well organised and committed, Ampthill had plenty of possession, but squandered far too many opportunities through poor handling and decision making.
Shortly into the second half Ampthill were deep into Hitchin territory, the ball was passed down the line but as too often a pass was spilled. The Hitchin winger pounced on the ball and sprinted upfield. He was caught by Osbourne on the Ampthill 22, but a good pass out to a supporting player secured Hitchin the first points. The conversion was well struck leaving A’s trailing by 7 points.
Ampthill struck back after being awarded a penalty 7M from Hitchin’s line. Lavery caught the Hitchin defence napping, tapping and running over for the score. His own conversion was also good bringing the scores level at 7 each. After a period of scrappy play , Richardson broke through the Hitchin forwards to find himself in space, great interplay between Jabri and Richardson saw Jabri take the points. Lavery again converted for Ampthill to lead 14-7.
After an infringement at the ruck by Hitchin, Hobart was a little too enthusiastic in tackling the offending player, and was shown a yellow card. Following a line out on Ampthill’s 22, Hitchin spun the ball right. A wayward pass hit a Hitchin player on the knee, bypassing the defence and bobbling over the line, allowing a supporting player to drop on it to score. Another excellent conversion and back to all square at 14 – 14, and that is how the match ended.
Hitchin will be understandably, and justifiably, proud at holding Ampthill (who I overheard their linesman/coach referring to as ‘the best team in England’!) to a draw. Ampthill’s performance mostly varied between poor and woeful, and although there were some good performances, Ampthill were definitely not operating as a team today.
Every team has an off day – let’s hope that this was Ampthill’s one and only for this season.
PS The average house price in Hitchin is £289,596 and Ampthill’s is £288,665 – so we’ll call that a draw as well.