1stXV Do The Double Over Blackheath
Ampthill travelled to Well Hall for a crucial game against league leaders Blackheath on a cold overcast day with a stiff breeze. The starting XV saw just one change from that which defeated Plymouth Albion, James Pritchard replacing Oliver Morris at centre while the replacements included a debut for Tadge Mcelroy at Hooker and the return of Micky Wilson providing outside backs cover.
Amps began on the front foot with a direct and physical approach, backs and forwards combining to probe and challenge Blackheaths defence retaining the ball for the first eight minutes but a sloppy pass relieved the pressure.
The visitors continued to pressurise the home side and were eventually awarded a kickable penalty but Pritchard pushed it wide, however, Ampthill continued to dominate both territory and possession.
On 19 minutes an Amps scrum 40m out on the left saw a training ground move when eighthman Maama Molitika fed scrum half Kevin Barrett who held the defence to put full back Will Foster away, after skinning the cover he touched down wide out, Pritchard missing the difficult conversion.
A s increased the pressure with a penalty awarded for another breakdown infringement that Pritchard kicked to the corner. A trademark Maroon and Gold catch & drive was rumbling to the try line when Blackheath’s pack pulled down the maul giving referee no option other than to award a penalty try on 25 minutes.
The hosts responded with a period of pressure with former Ampthill player Joe Tarrant pushing a penalty wide in the 27th minute before a well worked move resulted in an unconverted try by hooker Michael Perks just to the left of the posts on 34 minutes.
The visitors continued to control the game, however, with a sustained period of pressure. After being camped in the Blackheath half centre Sam Hanks cut back against the drifting Club defence, beat four defenders before being finally tackled. Flanker Will Allman was in support to touch down under the posts with Pritchard adding the extras to leave the score at oranges 5-19.
National 1 leaders Blackheath where never going to lie down and they certainly came out of the changing rooms after half time fired up and on the front foot. The storm that followed for the first 15 minutes of the second half included two fine tries (centre Pickersgill, 43 minutes & prop Herriott, 54) through excellent team play bringing Club right back into the contest just 2 points behind.
The introduction of prop Matt Collins and Mcelroy from the bench saw Amps regain their superiority up front. On 66 minutes A’s were awarded a very kickable penalty but a demonstration of the growing confidence saw skipper Billy Johnson opt to kick for the corner. Another catch & drive resulted in Mcelroy’s first try of his dual registration from Saracens, Pritchard converting.
The visitors forwards were now in charge leading to a repeat on 71 minutes of the penalty, lineout, catch & drive sequence with Mcelroy again coming up with the ball. This time Pritchard’s conversion slid past the post leaving the score 17-31.
The home side were now pressing for a bonus point score with Amps defence holding up until Allman was shown a yellow card for a breakdown infringement resulting in the hosts securing their 4th try and losing bonus points with a last kick of the game converted try.
Other results saw Rosslyn Park lose at home to Darlington Mowden Park and Old Elthamians win a tight one away at Moseley but without a bonus point, as a result Ampthill now top National 1 for the first time this season.
Director of Rugby Mark Lavery comments “A very good away performance but still with a number of areas to work on. Next week we face another big game against bogey side Cambridge who have won the last three games between to two sides.”
Tries:- Perks (34), Pickersgill (43), Herriott (52), Owen (79),
Conversions:- Tarrant (44), Clements-Hill (80)
Tries:- Foster(19), Allman (39), Mcelroy (66, 71)
Conversions:- Pritchard (40, 67)
Penalty Tries:- (25)
Half Time:- Blackheath 5 Ampthill 19
Referee:- Alexander Thomas
Man of the Match:- Ollie Walliker, Ampthill