1stXV’s Secure Bonus Point Win Despite Cinderford’s 2nd Half Fightback
Ampthill travelled to Dockham Road one of the toughest grounds for a visiting side to gain any points in National 1 on a very windy day.
Amps won the toss and elected to play against the near gale force wind in the first half securing a comfortable lead, the second half saw the home side threaten a remarkable comeback only for the A’s to close out the game late on.
Cinderford kicked off and immediately took the game to A’s who retained possession beginning to probe the home defence.
A half break from visiting fly half Josh Sharp feeding a shoulder ball to Saracens dual registered lock Jon Kpoku who carried 25m before being dragged to the ground. The hosts killed the ball giving away a penalty that was kicked to the corner.
Cinderford’s pack held the first attempt at a catch & drive but Ampthill retained possession and battered the home side with multiple phases leading to flanker Will Allman bagging the first of a brace of tries touching down just to the left of the posts with centre James Pritchard adding the extras.
The hosts responded well putting Amps under pressure leading to an infringement at a breakdown and a successful penalty goal to Cinderford.
Recovering the restart A’s, marshalled well by scrum half Kevin Barrett and Sharp, began to establish a pattern controlling territory & possession.
Barrett, sniping, sliced through a hole and, with the visitors pouring through on his shoulder, the home side once more gave away a penalty at a breakdown. Repeating the kick to the corner, catch & drive the hosts held the first surge but Sharp carried deep into the 22 finding Kpoku once more in support to score to the right of the posts, Pritchard again adding the conversion.
Cinderford, immediately under pressure from the restart, were again penalised in the red zone. The subsequent penalty, lineout, catch & drive was again held by the home side but Barrett feinting from a ruck held the cover just enough for Allman finish under the posts. Pritchard’s conversion leaving the score at oranges 3-21.
The visitors had been accurate and on point in the first half but were expecting a fight back from the hosts.
The second half started with more of the same with Ampthill camped in Cinderford territory with all the possession and looking to put the game beyond doubt.
The hosts were defending for their lives and with Amps allowing the intensity to drop a little, a fluffed lineout on the Cinderford 5m line saw a momentum change which marked the beginning of the Cinderford rally.
The home side, now in Ampthill territory, scored a fine try after an accurate cross field kick allowed the hosts wing to score down the left, the kickable conversion sliding by.
With the Amps scrum now under pressure, loose head prop Soane Tonga’uiha was shown a yellow on 62 minutes. Replacement hooker Ollie Walliker came on for the next scrum and after two resets a penalty try was awarded. The double blow being tight head Matt Collins also receiving a 10 minute rest leaving A’s down to 13 players and the score 15-21.
With home crowd smelling blood and their team’s tails up, the visitors were under the pump and had to dig really deep to stem the tide.
Cinderford scored their third try on 69 minutes but again missed a simple conversion leaving Ampthill just 1pt in the lead.
With Tonga’uiha rejoining the fray and replacement back row forward Syd Blackmore making a nuisance of himself in the loose Amps withstood the pressure until the return of Collins restored A’s to a full compliment of players.
With the visitors level back to strong and disciplined the home side had to put all their shoulders to the wheel to halt Ampthill’s rollercoaster.
After another failed penalty, lineout, catch & drive Cinderford cleared their lines, won the ensuing line out and carried the ball into the heart of Amps defence but found arch poacher open side Joe Bercis clamped over the ball just outside the 22. With the benefit of the wind the ensuing penalty was kicked to the corner in the 3rd minute of time added on.
A’s didn’t need a second chance, Will Allman soared to secure the lineout and pretty much the whole back division joined the surge to the line replacement hooker Tadgh McElroy to score the bonus point try with the last play of the game.
Director of Rugby “After a professional and accurate first fifty minutes we allowed the home side to smell blood through our poor scrummaging which led to two yellow cards and if Cinderford had kicked their conversions we could have been in trouble.
However we rallied towards the end and we are delighted to come away with 5pts.”