Pirates kicked off in bright and blustery conditions and the warm wind was certainly to be a factor in this afternoon’s game!
In recent weeks Ampthill have conceded early and Mark Lavery had warned his squad about giving the Pirates any significant lead “we give them an early lead and we may end up needing a calculator to add up the scores” he had said after the Hartpury win. Head Coach Paul Turner had emphasised the importance pregame of reducing the error count and improving the decision-making, and in the first half, Ampthill’s young pack stuck to the task!
Pirates were first to put points on the board with an eighth-minute penalty from Cargill, followed soon after by a try in the corner from scrum-half Alex Schwarz, the first of his brace, – just avoiding the tackle of Lutui to dot down. 16 mins and Pirates lead 8-0.
In a half dominated by the forwards and with few attacking opportunities for either side, captain Grimoldby trusted his right boot when penalty opportunities presented in the 33rd and 38th minutes to reduce the deficit to 2 points. 8-6.
A rare lapse in concentration this afternoon allowed O’Meara to gather from the restart. He fed flanker Stevens who hands off Laws to score in the corner. Conversion missed and at halftime Pirates lead 13 v 6 in an evenly poised game!
The second half was an equally cagey affair, but Ampthill were to reduce the deficit further with another Grimoldby penalty.
Then came Ampthills best passage of play in the game. A solid scrum on halfway line, Ollie Stonham picks up and feeds Law whose long kick finds touch deep in the Pirates 22. Charlie Beckett breaks the line and pops up to supporting debut boy Richard Streets who beats his man and rolls for the line! The referee awards the try despite questions over the grounding. But A’s are good for their lead, 13 v 14 and 30 mins to play.
On 60 minutes Paul Turner empties his bench and Wainwright, Ward and Jack take over the duty of containing the Pirates pack – Ward using every ounce of his experience to guide his young colleagues to control the game.
In the 67th minute, the Pirates work the ball wide and Schwarz grabs his second try. Cargill working against a very strong wind misses the conversion and the Pirates lead again. 18 v 14.
Sensing that the game isn’t beyond them, the A’s pack are working hard to gain ground and retain both composure and possession. No champagne rugby, but effectively working around the corner off nine to create penalty opportunities. Bennett makes no mistake in both the 70th minute to make it a one-point game, and then the 77th minute holds his nerve to give A’s the lead for the second time this afternoon and despite further pressure from the Pirates, the ball goes dead and the referee blows for the final time.
A huge win for #TheMob at The Mennaye! 18 v 20 – oh to be on the bus going home!
After the game, Director of Rugby Mark Lavery commented “This is arguably the biggest result in the club’s history and whilst we are delighted with the result, we still have loads to work on and there is more to come from this season’s playing group.
The scrum was outstanding and Aleki (Lutui) was the foundation for the result today – his experience and carrying was a great lesson for some of the young players today.”
Penalty: Grimoldby (3), Bennett (2)
Try: Schwarz (2), Stevens
Man of the Match: Aleki Lutui