Match Report: 1881 22 v 12 Esher Cardinals

The first game of the New Year for the unbeaten 1881’s saw Esher visiting Dillingham Park for a double header fixture and a potential 10 points available to both sides.

A typical  strong cross wind and plenty of rain set up a tricky afternoon for both teams on The Olney Field.

Esher elected to play with the wind for the first half. A choice Ampthill were quite happy with, and the A’s dominated the early exchanges.  A lineout on the opposition 5m line in the 5th minute and a clean catch and drive led to hooker Syd Blackmore getting the ball down in the corner, and a good Josh Bragman conversion from out wide against the wind gave the 1881 a 7 v 0 lead.

The 1881 continued to dominate possession and a turnover ball on halfway led to a line break run from centre Sam Hanks with support from flanker Paddy Ryan up the left , and Morgan Days crossing the line in the corner, Ampthill 12 Esher 0.

Esher then got into their game and gained some possession and territory. An Ampthill scrum on there own 5m line with a miss pass led to turnover ball and Esher playing the ball out wide and crossing the touch line for their first score.

Half time and a scoreline of Ampthill 12 Esher 5. A dominant half for the A’s with good possession and line breaking runs from flanker Paddy Ryan and winger Josh Skelcey.

The first score of the second half was going to be important and the A’s were confident with the wind on their backs. It was Esher though who started the half strongest, and it was their driving maul which crossed the line for the opening score after 20 minutes and a 12 all score line.

The game was now in the balance and Ampthill responded with their own driving maul and Syd Blackmore again touching down for 17-12 with 10 minutes to go and all still on offer. The 1881’s wrapped the game up in the closing minutes with the try of the game. Scrum half Gav Williams collecting the ball 35m out on the left touchline from a poor clearance kick, made 15m and a pass out wide to centre Lui Natui on the left touchline followed by a neat inside pass to Josh Skelcey to beat the last defender and cross the line.

Final score Ampthill 1881’s 22, Esher 12. A really good game played in a good spirit under very difficult conditions but with quality from both sides.

1881’s play Chinnor at home next Saturday as they continue their progress up the table.

Steve Everitt

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