Macclesfield 12 1stXV 28, Sat Oct 08, 2016, Match Report
Ampthill travelled up the motorway on a miserable morning which improved the further North they went becoming a fine, dry afternoon to find their hosts 1stXV pitch in superb condition with Priory Park looking a picture.
Amps squad saw a number of changes from that which started against Moseley, up front James Fish made his first start at hooker while Matt Collins took the tight head spot. Nick Isiekwe and Ben Earl, both back from Saracens academy duty, started at lock and blindside respectively while Rob Bell started at openside. The backs saw Kev Barrett return at scrum half having recovered from injury and Elliot Reeder make his first start of the season at outside centre. Front rows Aleki Lutui & Brett Sturgess rotate to the bench along with flanker Joe Bercis and scrumhalf Ben Calder.
A’s picked up where they left off against Moseley with a clinical first quarter scoring three converted tries, through centre Will Goodge (13 minutes), Barrett (21) and Earl (23), flyhalf Stef Jones adding the extras to all three.
The home side gradually came back into the game as the visitors intensity and accuracy levels dropped a shade, in particular their red zone defence was outstanding. On 33 minutes Macclesfield scored an unconverted try through returning fullback Tom Morton (Sale Sharks academy) leaving the score 5-21 at oranges.
Ampthill weren’t allowed to return to the pattern and comfort of the fisrt quarter for the remainder of the game as the home side competed well at the breakdown, however, after a period of conerted pressure from the hosts Amps were awarded a penalty in mid-field which was kicked to the 22. A series of phases resulted in wing Sam Baker taking an inside ball to cross for the bonus point try on 61 minutes, Jones keeping up his 100% record with the conversion.
With Macclesfield now needing four scores it seemed the result was sealed but the hosts redoubled their efforts making life difficult for A’s. On 70 miutes after another period of red zone pressure Reeder earned a yellow card. With the visitors down a man discipline was a major requirement but for the second week in a row Ampthill incurred the wrath of the referee twice more with first captain Maama Molitika (79) and then replacement flanker Joe Bercis (80) both receiving a 10 minute rest.
The home side capitalised in the 5th minute of time added on with a converted try through captain Ryan Parkinson leaving the score 12-28 at no side.
The clock on the clubhouse had stopped for 5 minutes during the second half which helped to explain why the teams played for 52 minutes after the break.
The was a game of 25 minutes of Ampthill dominance and 67 minutes of very competitive rugby in which Macclesfield outscored their visitors 12-7.
Ampthill’s connections look forward to returning the great welcome, hospitality and friendliness offered by the hosts in the return visit on the new year.
Director of Rugby Mark Lavery commented “Securing a bonus point win on the road is pleasing but, after a very satisfactory first quarter, Ampthill allowed the hosts to come back into the game exerting much pressure in the second half. Our self-discipline during the last quarter was unacceptable, especially following a similar episode last week.”
Tries:- Molton (33), Parkinson (80)
Conversions:- Eaton (81)
Tries:- Goodge (13), Barrett (21), Earl (23), Baker (61)
Conversions:- Jones (14, 22, 24, 62)
Man of the Match:- Kevin Barrett, Ampthill