1stXV Defeat Cinderford Eight Tries To One
Ampthill welcomed Cinderford to Olney Field on a dry, sunny and warm afternoon with a moderate breeze with the pitch in better condition following recent rain.
Changes to the home starting XV this week include Carl Burgess (lock), Joe Bercis (open side), Josh Sharp (fly half), Ollie Morris (outside centre) and Ciaran Whyte (full back) while Syd Blackmore (hooker) and Sean Reffell (flanker) rotated to the bench and Jack Culverhouse came in to cover the front row.
Ampthill produced their best performance of this season scoring 8 tries (4 in each half) but it was Amps defence in the second quarter which was key including 5 turnovers in the red zone.
A’s opened the scoring in the 4th minute with a trade mark catch & drive credited to Aleki Lutui converted from wide right by fly half Josh Sharp who produced his best ever performance in maroon & gold after his return to the starting XV.
Next centre Ollie Morris took on the cover to crash over wide on the left in the 14th minute for try which came after a fine backs move, Sharp making the difficult conversion look easy.
14-0 down Cinderford responded with vigour showing just why they had won four of their seven games so far this season while securing a losing bonus point in the other three. The next 20 minutes belonged to the visitors with Amps seemingly unable to get out of their own half.
Having won a penalty in front of the posts just inside the home 22 Cinderford fly half Danny Pointon, an Ampthill Old Boy, took the 3 point to reduce the deficit.
Wave after wave of Cinderford attacks followed, both from close range by their pack and in open play from their backs but an outstanding defensive performance kept them scoreless. Highlights included five red zone turnovers including two held up while over the line and one phenomenal cover tackle from right wing Spencer Sutherland which forced a knock on by the left corner flag with the attacker in the act of scoring!
Having weathered the storm the home side extended their lead on 34 minutes when Man of the Match Sharp grubbered through from first receiver and won the foot race to touch down and then convert his own try.
Almost straight from the kick off the hosts scored another try in the 37th minute after counter attacking from a clearance kick with backs and forwards combining to release Sutherland on an inside ball who scooted round behind the posts for the first of his three tries, again Sharp adding the extras.
With the score 28-3 at oranges, Cinderford’s connections could be excused for feeling a little shell shocked as the balance of play did not reflect the score line, however, the hosts had demonstrated clinical finishing with their mid half defensive sets proving crucial.
The second half began with two more tries from from Ampthill, both from Sutherland (44, 50), the latter seeing him beat two defenders wide on the right where they didn’t seem to be any space, Sharp converting the latter.
The visitors responded by securing their consolation try on 60 minutes after battering the A’s goal line with multiple pick & goes, the try credited to replacement hooker Thomas Heard and converted by Pointon.
The home side scored their 7th try after a midfield line break resulted in former Cinderford centre Sam Hanks finishing under the posts on 70 minutes and Morris adding his second after intercepting an ambitious pass inside the visitors 22, Sharp adding the extras for both leaving the score 54-10 at no side.
This was the best team performance of this (and potentially any other) season, an 80 minute display of attacking invention and defensive aggression which left the visitors shaking their heads, especially given their excellent start to their return to National 1. The question is, can the squad reproduce this level next week!
Ampthill head coach Paul Turner commented “Every facet of our game improved this week with our half backs outstanding. Cinderford are a good side as evidenced by their excellent start to their return to National 1 and were very competitive until our third try after which we stretched away. The bench made their contribution while I thought our attacking intent and execution was as good as I’ve seen from an Ampthill side.”
Tries:- Lutui (4), Morris (9, 76), Sharp (34), Sutherland (37, 44, 50), Hanks (70)
Conversions:- Sharp (5, 10, 35, 38, 51, 71, 77)
Tries:- Heard (60)
Conversions:- Pointon (61)
Penalty Goals:- Pointon (16)
Half Time:- Ampthill 28 Cinderford 3
Referee:- Alexander Thomas
Man of the Match:- Josh Sharp, Ampthill