5000 Watch Ampthill Secure Their Third Consecutive Win Over Bedford Blues
Ampthill travelled the 9 miles to a wet Goldington Road on a miserable Boxing Day which had seen significant rain all day until an hour or so before kick off. Thankfully the remaining drizzle ceased as the two sides ran out while the pitch was in surprisingly good condition and there was little wind to trouble the kickers. The bumper capacity crowd (nominally 5,000) indicated the sense of playing a local derby on a bank holiday while the demand for tickets exceeded supply.
Amps squad saw a number of changes, up front former Blue Soane Tonga’uiha (prop), Syd Blackmore (hooker), Billy Johnson (lock) & Sam Hudson (No 8) rotated to the starting lineup, as did Tongan Leon Fukofuka (scrum half) and Argentine Serafin Bordoli (centre) in the backs. On the bench Dave Ward (hooker), Carl Burgess (lock) and Sam Hanks (centre) rotated while Matt Collins (prop) and Argentine Facundo Dominguez (flanker) returned.
A’s began well, taking the game to Bedford and putting their defence under pressure for the first 15 minutes or so which increased when the visitors secured two successive scrum penalty goal chances for Ampthill fly half & Captain Louis Grimoldby, the former (on 6 minutes) sliding past the post while the latter (13 minutes) bisecting them.
Going behind seemed to trigger the home side to raise their game with the remainder of the half belonging to hosts in both territory and possession. The game was essentially being played pack to pack with both sets of backs committed to their defensive duties but having little to no chance to shine going forward.
Blues pack had recovered to the point of forcing penalties against Amps scrum while their line out was proving secure and the loose exchanges shaded in their favour. The result was a quarter of tough defence for A’s, with little respite, as every time they cleared their lines Bedford put them straight back under pressure.
Eventually after multiple phases in the red zone the 32nd minute saw number 8 Alafoti Faosiliva crash over from close range to right of the posts, fly half Will Hooley adding the extras.
Blues exerted further pressure through to half time but were unable to trouble the scoreboard again leaving them leading 3-7 at oranges.
Whatever was said during the interval the visitors came out of the blocks firing winning a 44th minute penalty which Grimoldby converted to reduce the lead to 1pt.
Just 2 minutes later, more or less straight from the kick off, the hosts were penalised and the resulting penalty kicked to the corner. Ampthill executed a perfect catch & drive with hooker Syd Blackmore coming up with the ball having touched down wide on the left, Grimoldby’s difficult conversion adding insult to injury.
On 54 minutes, after the home side’s first period of possession in the half, Amps were penalised allowing Hooley to reduce the deficit to 13-10 with a penalty goal.
A’s responded with a fine period of play, multiple phases deep in Bedford’s 22 stretching the defence, a fact noted by Grimoldby whose double missed pass gave wing Sam Baker a 58th minute try scoring opportunity wide on the left with which he made no mistake, Grimoldby again adding an excellent touch line conversion.
Such was the tightness of the game this was possibly the only backs opportunity of the match!
Now leading by 10 pts the visitors stretched their lead further on 66 mins as more pressure led to another penalty goal chance, Grimoldby continuing his streak with another fine kick.
Blues redoubled their efforts forcing Ampthill onto the back foot but Grimoldby cleared the lines to half way twice from deep inside his 22. As the pressure built and time was running out the game became a little fractious with one or two sets of handbags interrupting play. Eventually as Amps again foiled a Bedford maul attack lock Shay Kerry received a yellow card but, having chosen a scrum, the hosts failed to capitalise.
A’s now retained possession running down the clock until replacement scrum half Darryl Veenendaal kicked the ball dead to bring an end to a fine afternoon’s entertainment.
Having beaten the home side three times in a row Ampthill retained bragging rights but the result could have been different if Bedford had taken their chances in the first half.
With a played 7 won 3 drawn 1 record in the Championship, Amps connections can feel satisfied with their first set of fixtures at level 2 but there are another 15 remaining, no one involved should underestimate the challenge remaining.
Ampthill head coach Paul Turner commnented “I am proud of the passion and improved accuracy shown in the 2nd half which proved decisive. We just did enough against a good Bedford side and I am very pleased for the group who responded to the pressure we placed onto them during our preparation. ”
Try :- Faosiliva (32)
Conversion :- Hooley (33)
Penalty :- Hooley (54)
Tries :- Blackmore (46), Baker (58)
Conversions :- Grimoldby (47, 59)
Penalties :- Grimoldby (13, 44, 66)
Half Time Score :- 7-3
Referee :- Anthony Woodthorpe
Attendance :- 5000+
Man of the Match :- Louis Grimoldby and/or the entire Ampthill pack