Coventry 29 1stXV 19, Sat Mar 11, 2017
Ampthill travelled to near neighbours Coventry on a dry, overcast afternoon to find a large crowd and fired up opponents.
Ampthill simply didn’t get off the bus in the first half, despite having been warned that a repeat of the first half performance from the corresponding fixture last season would lead to another loss, the squad were off the pace with the forwards losing the collisions and the backs making defensive errors. A much improved second half performance saw the visitors chances to take the game go begging as Coventry earned a well deserved victory.
Coventry opened the scoring on 8 minutes after Ampthill were adjudged to have collapsed a maul leading to a penalty try, converted by former Ampthill player fly half Will Maisey.
The home side extended their lead in the 18th minute when Maisey charged down a kick on the visitors 10m line which led to a foot race won by centre Tom Wheatcroft, Maisey adding the extras.
On 27 minutes Maisey converted a penalty goal after Amps were penalised at a break down.
A’s responded with a 31st minute try from scrum half Ben Calder, having his best game in Maroon & Gold, who darted over from close range after a series of phases in the red zone.
The hosts extended their lead on 34 minutes with a fine individual unconverted try from wing Tom Howe who chipped the defensive line, re-gathered and won another foot race leaving the score 22-7 at oranges.
After what must have been an ‘interesting’ half time talk Ampthill began the second half with more intensity with wing Karim Lynch breaking off a catch & drive to score wide on the right in the 44th minute, Tarrant’s touchline conversion sliding past the posts.
Amps closed the gap to just 3pts on 52 minutes when flanker Will Allman came up with the ball after a trademark catch & drive. Tarrant, who’d missed a penalty chance just 2 minutes earlier, adding the conversion.
With A’s in the ascendancy the game appeared to be swinging their way when Coventry’s Jake Byrne received a yellow card on 57 minutes for a no arms tackle but instead of taking advantage of the extra man sloppy defending allowed the home side to extend their lead in the 59th minute after a mid-field break from Maisey who fed wing Rob Knox for the bonus point try with the fly-half crowning a fine performance by adding the extras.
With 20 minutes to play the visitors must still of fancied their chances but a 62nd minute yellow card to Lynch saw Ampthill’s advantage first eliminated and then reversed, the video of the incident will no doubt prove illuminating.
Despite much effort from both sides no further scores were added leaving Coventry deserved winners 29-19.
Director of Rugby Mark Lavery commented “Well as Coventry played, and lets be clear they were worthy of their win, they were assisted by an unacceptable first 40 minutes from our forward pack while our defence was soft. A much improved second half performance wasn’t enough, we cannot give a team as good as Coventry a 20pt plus start.”