Chinnor 38 1stXV 33, Sat Sep 08, 2018, National 1
Ampthill travelled along the Chilterns to Chinnor for their second National 1 fixture of the season on a dry, overcast afternoon with a strong breeze in favour of the visitors for the first half.
Amps squad saw four changes from that which defeated Loughborough. With Captain Billy Johnson serving a ban Carl Burgess came into the second row while with DR centre Olly Morris required by Saracens Elliot Reeder was recalled to the starting XV. On the bench, two products of Ampthills Mini & Youth system were recalled from the 1881s, Chris Muncaster (prop) and Matt Burke (flanker).
The hosts were deserved victors confirming that their win away at Plymouth a earlier was no flash in the pan. Having defeated in successive weeks teams that finished 3rd & 4th in National 1 last season they must now be considered promotion contenders.
Chinnor’s outstanding first 40 minutes was aided and abetted by an abysmal defensive performance from A’s characterised by a complete lack of physicality and application in open play & the breakdown.
Sadly, the first incident of the match was a real concern that may lead to further action. The visitor’s fullback James Pritchard was taken out off the ball, picked up and driven vertically on his head into the ground right in front of the assistant referee and both benches.
To the amazement of the watching supporters and benches the Chinnor forward was shown a Yellow card.
The inconsistency in officiating game to game is a serious concern at level 3, last week a straight red was issued on the advice of an assistant referee for an incident that appeared innocuous to those watching and which saw no reaction from the players involved. This week, also on the advice of an assistant referee, an incident that saw a player on the ground for 7 minutes and IRB guidelines ignored received a lower sanction.
After the injury break the 10th minute saw Ampthill strike first with a try for Sam Hanks converted by the recovered Pritchard on 10 minutes.
The hosts responded with a cross field kick to the left wing on 20 minutes that was touched down in the left corner but went unconverted.
They scored again straight from the restart against what can only be described as powder puff defending and the try was converted to take a deserved lead.
Pritchard left the field and was replaced by Ciaran Whyte after 25 minutes.
On 30 minutes Ampthill scored a well worked try after multiple phases on the left with scrum half Kevin Barrett ghosting through unopposed for a score which fly half Josh Sharp converted to regain the lead.
Chinnor then enjoyed the benefit of some abject Amps defending and some interesting officiating to score two tries, one wide on the left and a penalty try after a alleged side entry at a maul by Paino Hehea which led to a yellow card on 38 mins to give the hosts a 24 v 14 lead at the half time whistle.
A’s first half performance was awful and the hosts fully deserved their lead. On multiple occasions the Maroon and Gold kicked away good possession and three separate times kicked the ball dead.
Chinnor started the second half well and took advantage of a penalty kick to the corner and scored a converted try from a catch and drive to extend their lead.
The visitors responded well with Matt Collins crashing over in the 54th minute to reduce the lead to 12 pts.
Ampthill’s Sharp had nearly been intercepted on the hour mark and finally was intercepted on 67 minutes to effectively end the contest gifting a converted try to the hosts.
The Maroon and Gold kept attacking and were rewarded by wing Sam Baker’s try converted by Sharp on 75 minutes and Barrett scoring his second try wide on the right well converteded by Sharp to give Ampthill two losing bonus points and a final score of 38 v 33.
Director of Rugby Mark Lavery commented “We could have nicked it at the end but that wouldn’t have been a fair reflection of the game. An abject first forty minutes on the road isn’t good enough and the coaching staff will have much thinking and consideration before the arrival of Esher next week at Dillingham Park.”
Chinnor 2ndXV 42 ‘1881’ 36
A very young 1881s side went down to the hosts second team 42 v 36 having led 14-24 at half time. Summer signing Spencer Sutherland scored a hat trick and Mikey Waters had a strong game at fly half.