Ampthill welcomed London Scottish to Dillingham Park for their first-ever competitive fixture on New Years Day and the home side were boosted by a crowd of 749 coming to cheer them on in the Grange Jaguar-Land Rover Bowl.
“The team had trained and prepared well in the lead up to the game” but those preparations were thrown into turmoil when a couple of Ampthill players returned positive Covid-19 tests the night before the game! Cue phone calls to the RFU and players who thought they had a weekend off!
With Ampthill looking nervous at the whistle, London Scottish started fast and they were to score the first Championship try of 2022 through David Halaifonua after only eight minutes. This was a wake up call for the Mob!
When London Scottish, and ex-Ampthill winger Sam Baker was given a yellow in the 22nd minute for a deliberate knock-on, Ampthill immediately capitalised on the numerical advantage – number 8 Paddy Ryan picking up from the base of a scrum just five metres out, and waltzed over where Baker would have been. Russell Bennett completed a difficult conversion in the wind, 7-5 A’s
Ampthill scored their second try just before the break! With advantage played, Tom Hudson put a trademark grubber kick behind the Scottish defence, and fullback Josh Sharp had the speed to get to the ball first. A 12-5 half-time lead for the A’s.
Ampthill continued in the same fashion soon after the break. A magnificent cross-field kick from Bennett found Josh Skelcey in acres of space and a surging run took Ampthill deep into Scottish territory. A few phases later, it was the other winger Ollie Dawkins who squeezed the ball between corner flag and defender to score Ampthill’s third try. A successful conversion fromout wide from Bennett was followed by a penalty a few minutes after and Ampthill had a 22-5 lead.
Ampthill got their bonus point in the 60th minute – hooker Jack Dickinson emerged from a pile of bodies with the ball, finishing off a collective effort from the pack.
Ampthill scored their fifth on 70 minutes! With London Scottish reduced to 12 men at one stage due to players in the sin-bin plus one undergoing an HIA, Saracen’s dual-reg prop Sam Cream jinked his way through a number of defenders to score a try that a commentator said “Jason Robinson would be proud of.” 36-5 A’s
After finding themselves 36-5 with ten minutes to go, the visitors rallied courtesy of tries from Georgiou and Baldwin, but fell short of a bonus point of their own, the final score 36 – 17.
Ampthill were worth the win and 5 points, but particular mention must go to the three Ampthill Academy graduates who made their Championship Rugby debut today! Liam Everitt, Bailey Thomas and Pierce Holland train with the first fifteen squad but ordinarily represent the 1881’s or Ampthill Jets due to competition for places in the 1st XV. When positive covid tests struck the squad last night, and again this morning, all three stepped in at the last minute and demonstrated their ability when called upon as second-half replacements to perform against strong opposition and further evidence the success of the Ampthill Academy. They now join Harry Jarvis who made his Championship debut earlier this season having graduated last season.
Head Coach, Paul Turner following the game “we were a bit nervous at the start – memories of last weeks result at Coventry combined with the disruption of the past 24 hours didn’t help but as the game went on, we got into our stride and played some great rugby today. Both our props were superb today and our pack laid a solid foundation for a lot of what we did well, and we were clinical when given opportunities. Special mention must be given to the Academy lads who stepped in and came out of the game with great credit today”