1stXV Hold Off Hull Ionians Fightback
Ampthill travelled to Brantingham Park on a fine afternoon after overnight rain. Amps Squad saw 6 changes from the side that defeated Plymouth Albion a week earlier. Paino Hehea started at lock with William Evans, fresh from his Aviva Premiership debut for Leicester Tigers, at openside. Gavin Williams rotated to scrum half from the bench with Conor Bullivant starting at left wing while Kiefer Laxton (back row) and Thomas Aviss (scrum half) provided cover on the bench.
A’s led 20-24 at half time, 20-36 with a bonus point after 54 minutes but, as is usual with games between these sides, which always seem to see a close result, Ionians closed the gap to earn 2 bonus points with a converted try at the death.
After an opening 5 minutes in which both sides were feeling the other out Ampthill took the lead with a 7th minute penalty goal by right wing Elliot Clements-Hill after the hosts were penalised at a breakdown. Just 3 minutes later Ionians responded with a penalty goal from fly half Gregory Lound after Amps were penalised for a similar offence.
On 13 minutes the home side scored a fine try when scrum half Adam Thomas caught A’s napping with a quick tap and blindside break offloading to right wing Stephen Slingsby for the score converted by Lound.
Athletically recovering his own ‘Garryowen’ from inside his own half, Ampthill fullback Karim Lynch offloaded out of the tackle to supporting centre William Maisey who touched down under the posts in the 15th minute with Clements-Hill adding the extras to tie the scores.
On 18 minutes Amps flyhalf Joseph Tarrant interceped a short pass outside his own 22 and raced 65m to score to the right of the posts with Clements-Hill again successful with the simple kick.
Openside Evans broke from a breakdown on the Hull 22 in the 23rd minute to cross the whitewash to the left of the posts, Clements-Hill adding the extras.
Having scored 3 tries in 8 minutes Amps collectively took their foot off the throttle with handling and judgement errors wasting further scoring opportunities as well as allowing Ionians back into the game. On 36 minutes Lound added another penalty goal before the half finished with a last play try by home openside Laurence Cowan converted by Lound following much pressure from the host pack inside A’s 22.
A game that the visitors had threatened to run away with was now delicately poised at oranges.
The second half began with Ampthill turning the screw, a series of lineouts and penalties inside the hosts 22 resulted in a trademark catch & drive unconverted try wide on the left on 47 minutes, Evans coming up with the ball at the back of the maul.
Three minutes later Clements-Hill finished a fine backs move running round behind the posts to make the conversion of his own try much easier.
Having secured the bonus point and a winning position Amps were now on the receiving end of the only controversy of the game when denied what appeared to be a perfectly good try by left wing Bullivant following a length of the field move starting inside their 22 when the touch judge raised his flag to indicate the scorer was in touch inside the in goal area much to the surprise of both teams, both sets of spectators and the other officials.
Encouraged, Ionians came back again, a well deserved 67th minute try from lock and Captain Joseph Makin converted by Lound saw the gap reduced to 9 pts.
Ionians dominated the last 10 minutes of the game after the visitors went a man down to a yellow card, a series of scrums 5m scrums resulted in a penalty which Captain Makin instructed the hither to perfect with the boot Lound to convert to earn a bonus point. However, probably the easiest kick so far crashed against the right hand upright rebounding into play where Ampthill made a mess of securing the ball resulting in another 5m scrum to the hosts.
Having pretty much had scrum parity throughout the game this time Hull got the shove on and drove towards the for eighthman Edward Falkingham to pick, crash over for a converted try which secured both try and losing bonus points leaving the final score 34-36.
Yet another epic game between these sides who always provide drama and excitement for both sets of spectators.
Head Coach Paul Turner commented “A good win against a very good side whose league position does not reflect their standard of play. The game changed when, with the score 20-36, we scored a 6th try which was subsequently overturned by a late flag. Credit to Ionians, we look forward to playing them next season.”
Tries:- Slingsby (13), Cowen (40), Makin (57), Falkingham (79)
Conversions:- Lound (14, 40, 58, 80)
Penalties:- Lound (10, 36)
Tries:- Maisey (15), Tarrant (18), Evans (23, 47), Clements-Hill (50)
Conversions:- Clements-Hill (16, 18, 24, 51)
Penalties:- Clements-Hill (3)
Half Time:- 20-24
Referee:- Matthew Turvey
Star Man:- Gavin Williams