Jersey 19, ‘1881’ 38, Sat Apr 28, 2018, Zoo Shield
Ampthill 1881 secured second place in Zoo One with a stunning 5 try victory away in the Channel Islands against Jersey Athletic. Ampthill were given the warmest of welcomes from the outstanding hosts. The game would be played on the Jersey Reds Championship pitch which was perfect underfoot for running rugby.
Ampthill, still with the long journey in their legs, were not quite at the races with dropped balls and sloppy work around the ruck, stopping the 1881 gaining any real momentum. It was against the run of play when Josh Sharp intercepted a Jersey pass to canter towards the try line. With just the fullback to beat, Micky Wilson was up in support to round off the try under the posts. Simple conversion making the score probably an undeserved 0-7.
Jersey came straight back scoring a well worked team try in front of the main stand before a long-range effort involving some Barbarians skills, got the large crowd on to their feet and make the half time score 12-7.
Some stern words at half time meant that from the beginning of the second half, all the sloppy mistakes from the first half were cut out meaning scrum half and 1881 stalwart Ben Calder had quick clean ball and plenty of runners from the ruck to choose from.
The second half started with a bang. Captain Loti Molitika taking a quick tap penalty from the halfway line, dragged a few defenders with him and offloaded to Sharp who rounded the full back to cross under the sticks.
Sharp’s second try came just 3 minutes later after a neat grubber in the Jersey 22 and a lightening turn of pace to beat defenders to the ball. Conversion making the score 12-21.
The 1881 juggernaut was not done yet with Molitika scoring after a show and go from the back of a scrum, Sharp again adding the extras.
With 15 minutes to play Sharp completed his hat-trick from another interception and was successful with the conversion.
Jersey scored another try in the corner after great work from the forwards and a superb conversion from out wide made the score 19-35.
With the Ampthill bench empty and all fresh legs on, the 1881 worked back to the Jersey half, Molitika, William Nankivell and Karl Garside all carrying hard and earned Ampthill a penalty in front of the sticks. Molitika pointed to the sticks, Sharp collected his 28th point of the day and history was made with Ampthill finishing second in the league.
Captain Molitika said “Fustrated at half time but the boys were superb in the second half. It’s been a long hard season but I’m so happy we got our first win in Jersey.”
An outstanding second half of this match and a remarkable run of results has Ampthill undefeated since February and includes wins against all opposition in the top half of the table. The 1881 partied in the clubhouse with many Jersey fans joining in the songs and sharing a few beverages. The partying continued round St Hillier until Sunday afternoon when the squad returned to Luton, battered, bruised and with sore heads.
15. O’Connor 14. Goodman 13. Lavery 12. Wilson (1T) 11. Howes 10. J Sharp (3T, 5C 1P) 9. Calder 8. L Molitika (c) (1T), 7. Diamond 6. Pitfield 5. Nankivell 4. White 3. Garside 2. Taylor 1. Muncaster
16. Wright 17. Millburn 18. L Sharp (Academy) 19. Falberg 20. Higgins