HARTPURY mastered difficult conditions to pick up their second away win of the season and their first of any kind over Ampthill in the Championship.
With a strong wind blowing the length of the pitch, it was always going to be the proverbial game of two halves. While the visitors did make good first use of the elements, it was their play against the wind in the final quarter that decided the result.
Hartpury head coach Mark Cornwell said: “We’re very pleased with that win. We played well with the wind in the first half, but I was quite worried in the 15 minutes or so after the break.
“The great thing was that we managed to sort out the scrum and were able to get a lot of control back later in the game.”
Good use of the wind was clearly going to be essential, but Hartpury started by showing some fine handling. An early breakthrough came when openside Harry Short stepped out of some halfhearted Ampthill tackling on halfway. He made 20 metres before finding the jet-heeled Toby Venner in support – nobody was going to stop the Hartpury scrum-half from there.
Another good try was to follow, after forwards and backs combined to allow Robbie Smith in for a good finish. The industrious Oli Robinson scored Hartpury’s third, following a Charlie Foley break, and then, again, outstanding Cameron Jordan repeated the dose from a drive just before half-time.
In between those tries, Ampthill pulled one back when Hartpury, as they did often, fell foul of the referee at scrum time. The lineout drive did the job for Amps and Billy Harding bundled over.
It was a completely different story after the break and it didn’t take long for the hosts to score a second from the drive, Harding again with the final touch.
Kevin Barrett and Harry Seward scored in quick succession from close range to bring Amps back within five. But with Hartpury starting to win scrum penalties of their own, they were able to re-establish a level of control and Jordan scored a final try after some patient phase play to settle the game.
“We were poor in the first half,” said Ampthill coach Paul Turner. “I was pleased with the way we fought our way back, but ultimately Hartpury played better into the wind than we did.”
Tries: Harding 30, 43, Barrett 47, Seward 50
Conversions: Bennett 44, 48
Tries: Venner 3, Smith 12, Robinson 17, Jordan 38, 78
Conversions: Williams 4, 18, 39, 79
Penalties: Williams 34, 71
AMPTHILL: Smith 6, Goodchild 6, Hudson 6 (Cambriani 6, 70), Hartley 7, Skelcey 6, Bennett 6 (Sharp 6, 68), Barrett 6 (Frostwick 6, 57); Jack 7 (Thornton 6, 45), Harding 7 (Dickinson 6, 65), Seward 7 (Beaton 6, 54), Beckett 6, Jones 6 (Wilkinson 6, 66), Arthur 6, Smart 7 (Bercis 6, 65), Monks 6
HARTPURY: B Foley 6 (Simpson 6, 87), S Smith 6, C Foley 7 (Tovey 6, 73) R Smith 7, Hamer-Webb 6, Williams 7, Venner 7 (Jones 6, 87); Holsey 6 (Maguire 7, 40), Crane 7 (Stratford 7, 55), Stanley 6 (Knight 7, 40), Lemon 6 (Dun 6, 49), Jordan 8, Robinson 7, Short 7, Eadie 6 (Merigan 6, 67)
REFEREE: Michael Hudson
Cameron Jordan – Hartpury