1st XV Beat Bogey Side Cambridge
Ampthill travelled to Volac Park on a dry, overcast afternoon with a gusty wind.
Amps squad showed two changes in the run on XV with Saracens dual registered lock Jon Kpoku coming in for the injured Josh Walker and scrum half Gavin Williams rotating from the bench. The replacements also saw two changes with George De Cohti (scrum half) and Mikey Waters (outside backs) coming in.
A’s recent record against Cambridge has been poor with Cambridge winning the last three contests between the two sides but were encouraged by winning the toss electing to go up hill and into the elements in the first half.
Cambridge kicked off pinning the visitors in their own half for the first 5 minutes taking an early lead through fly half Penfold’s penalty goal. Straight from the restart Ampthill were penalised again but the attempt, from halfway, drifted wide.
A’s, playing in their black away kit, fought back, dominating territory and possession for the next 30 minutes. The visitors forward pack had the hosts ‘eight’ in all sorts of trouble which led to a collapse in discipline and the first yellow card of the day given to blindside flanker Fox for an act of foul play on 13 minutes, centre James Pritchard’s successful penalty goal bringing the scores level.
A man down in the pack the under pressure hosts were undone when Ampthill spun the ball wide for wing Spencer Sutherland to touch down on the right, Pritchard’s conversion attempt sliding wide.
Despite being restored to a full compliment Amps forwards continued to trouble their opponents resulting in a series of infringements leading to another yellow card, this time for former A’s prop Henry Peck.
Despite being dominant all game the visitors pack were only awarded two penalties, the second resulting in a 32nd minute penalty try.
The home side, again restored to a full compliment, responded eventually resulting in a last kick of the half penalty goal to leave the score 6-15 at oranges.
Having been in control in the set piece, maul and at the breakdown Ampthill’s connections may have felt disappointment at the scoreline while Cambridge were pleased when the half time whistle arrived.
Amps started the second half well with backs and forwards combining to put lock Kpoku over for the A’s 3rd try in the 41st minute, Pritchard adding the extras.
What followed was disappointing for the large travelling Maroon and Gold support as the previous perfect line out started to slip, the back division began to take wrong options while the standard of play dropped below that shown in recent weeks resulting in the visitors failing to trouble the scoreboard for the remainder of the game.
On 72 minutes Cambridge scored a fine unconverted try through full back Mike Ayrton but were unable to threaten again.
The hosts defence stepped up and Ampthill’s pack, despite three red zone opportunities, failed to take advantage of regulation catch & drives. Though still in control at the breakdown and scrummage, sadly, a lack of accuracy and some sloppy set piece work meant Amps didn’t get the important bonus point and now slip to second in the division behind Old Elthamians whose bonus point win at home against Sale left them tied at the top of National 1.
Director of Rugby Mark Lavery comments “Given our recent record against Cambridge it was important to come away with a win. Our first half performance was good but we were disappointing in the second half when we allowed allowed our standards to drop. However, after three away trips in January we will take the win and to be sat just behind the league leaders is a good place to be.
We have a lot to work on and it’s important to step up our commitment this week before next week’s opponents Caldy who beat us last time out.”