A Game (Quite Literally) Of Two Halves
Ampthill welcomed Mowden Park to Olney Field on a dry, overcast afternoon with a stiffish breeze blowing at right angles to the pitch.
Amps squad saw Paino Hehea return at lock partnered by Jon Kpoku (dual registered with Saracens), Mikey Waters returning at fly half while the bench included Samson Ma’asi (hooker, DR with Northampton Saints), Alex Coles (lock, DR with Saints) and Mickey Wilson covering the backs.
A’s came out firing with much of the first 10 minutes played in the visitor’s half before taking the lead through left wing Sam Baker on 11 minutes who finished well wide on the left, full back James Pritchard’s conversion falling short against the breeze.
DMP responded immediately with a 40m penalty goal from fly half Gary Law after the hosts were penalised a ruck.
The home side’s forwards began to turn the screw, especially in the tight, despite losing tight head Matthew Collins to injury early on. Ampthill were dominant in the scrum, lineouts were more even but Mowden struggled to contain Amps maul while their own driving play was contained by A’s pack.
On 18 minutes home lock Jon Kpoku drove over from close range after multiple phases in the red zone, Pritchard converting before Amps drove a maul 30m for eighthman Maama Molitika to come up with the ball over the try line in the 25th minute, Pritchard adding the extras.
The 35th minute saw hooker Aleki Lutui drive over from close range to secure the bonus point try, Pritchard again successful with the conversion.
There was still time for right wing Spencer Sutherland to win the foot race to touch down in the 39th minute after scrum half Kevin Barrett had broken blind from a midfield scrum, dummied the cover and chipped through wide on the right, Pritchard making it 4 successful kicks from 5 with the conversion to leave the score 33-3 at oranges.
The second half began with Mowden scoring a breakaway try from in their own half when left wing Shaun McCartney stole the ball in the tackle area and raced 60m untouched, Law’s conversion sliding past the post.
Ampthill responded with another try from Lutui after a perfectly executed catch & drive in the 50th minute, Pritchard’s conversion bisecting the posts.
This was the signal for Amps defence to go walkabout as Mowden scored three quick tries in the 54th, 56th and 67th minutes through McCartney, right wing Brandon Asher-Wood and centre Callum Mackenzie, Law converting the latter two.
With 15 minutes left trailing by 11 points Mowden were energised but A’s raised their game preventing any real scoring chances until no side resulting in a 40-29 final score.
An entertaining game with Ampthill outscoring the visitors 5 tries to 0 in the first half while DMP turned the tables 1 try 4 in the second.
Ampthill Director of Rugby Mark Lavery commented “An excellent first half was followed by a poor second in which a lack of discipline, especially too much ‘chat’, rightly saw the penalty count swing against us. Having said that, our unbeaten run extends to five games with another big test next week away at Rosslyn Park.”
Tries:- Baker (11), Kpoku (18), Molitika (25), Lutui (35, 50), Sutherland (39)
Conversions:- Pritchard (19, 26, 36, 40, 51)
Tries:- McCartney (44, 54), Asher-Wood (56), Mckenzie (67)
Conversions:- Law (45, 57, 68)
Penalty Goals:- Law (33)
Half Time:- Ampthill 33 Mowden Park 3
Referee:- Charles Gayther
Man of the Match:- Kevin Barrett, Ampthill