Ampthill 1881’s clinical in the cold
It’s one of the longest road trips for the 1881 and so the fun bus were out and after a smooth trip the squad landed at Cinderford (not Cirencester) which felt more like the arctic. The 1881 have never won away at Cinderford, in fact, on the last two visits, Amps have received what can be described as a “bit of bashing” losing by 40 points on both occasions. With late pull outs through injury and sickness, A’s travelled with just 2 subs which was far from ideal. Kick off time and the sun was out but temperatures were very low, certainly the visitors coaches were warmed up by the “banter” from a passionate few supporting their home team.
The match started as it continued with huge hits all over the park particularly by the home boys who despite Ampthill having lots of possession tackled all match. It was man of the match Ben Calder, playing on the wing as opposed to his normal scrum half slot who opened the scoring after Michael Lavery exploded through the midfield, passing out wide to Ewan Starling who linked with Calder. Excellent support play and carries led to Calder turning his opposite number inside out to extravagantly dive in the corner.
Despite a lot of possession for 1881, Cinderford did get a try back after an error was pounced on and the ball kicked through for a home player to dive and dot down for a try out wide on the left which was expertly converted from their full back. Ampthill responded with Shay Howes pouncing on a delightful chip from Jake Sharp who was making amends for knocking on over the line a couple of minutes earlier to leave the score 7-12 at half time.
Cinderford, led by their player coach Clive Stewart Smith at scrum half with ex A’s 1stXV player Danny Pointon pulling strings at 10, were a tough bunch and came out all guns blazing for the second half. Unfortunately, the red mist descended onto an unsavoury incident which led to a yellow card for a Cinderford player and a red card for the visitors.
The game began to open up in the last 20 and with Cinderford tiring, 1881 played the Ampthill way allowing the backs to finish things off with style. Sharp and Calder both showing dancing feet to score converted trys each.
The best was yet to come as straight from the kick off Paino Hehea ran 40 meters, passed to George Elliot who in turn found Calder on the right who found a rampaging Pete Weightman on the inside. A deft chip infield was collected by Ed Goodman who scored in his first game for 18 months following horrendous knee injuries. Play rugby, don’t go ski-ing, it’s much safer.
Josh Sharp landed a last-minute penalty to bring the scoring to a close.
The side was captained strongly by Gav Williams who was as diplomatic as ever on occasions and gave some of the Cinderford defenders a torrid time.
With the final whistle a warm cup of tea was waiting for the players in the changing room and the players had a chance to thaw out.
The final score of 7-36 in the Forrest of Dean made for a lively bus journey home (sponsored by Strongbow) and with all teams across the club winning another fine Saturday was had.