Ampthill traveled to The Athletic Ground looking to build on last weekend’s win over Coventry at Dillingham Park.
The game kicked off in heavy rain with a strong south-easterly breeze. The weather was certainly to play its part in the afternoon’s proceedings and change both teams game plans.
Our hosts started brightly and took first blood – winning a penalty at the scrum, captain Nick Selway pointed to the posts. Fly-half May making no mistake from a good 40m to give Scottish a 3-0 lead.
Ampthill’s response was almost immediate. As Scottish looked to build on possession, Ampthill won a penalty and from the advantage Russell Bennett put in a cross-field ball towards the corner and run of Ben Cambriani. The Welsh winger clipped the ball on the half-volley sending his man the wrong way and ran on to dot down. Bennett hit the conversion. 3 v 7
On 15 minutes May scored his second penalty from another Ampthill infringement at the breakdown. 6 v 7
With conditions deteriorating and both teams struggling for consistency at the set-piece, it was becoming a game for the kickers. After last week’s masterclass at Dillingham Park, Bennett was oozing confidence and made no mistake when afforded two further opportunities before halftime to give Ampthill a 6 v 13 lead at oranges!
The second half was a disjointed affair.
Bennett scored his third penalty on 44 minutes for a 6 v 16 lead.
On 50 minutes our hosts were reduced to 14 men – the Scottish wing sent to the sinbin for a spear tackle on Joe-Luca Smith. It could easily have been a red card but a yellow was deemed sufficient. There were some ugly scenes resulting in both captains getting a word from our referee.
Ampthill couldn’t capitalize on their man advantage and as both sides made multiple changes in the pack, the game lost some momentum as conditions again worsened.
On 60 minutes, Head Coach Paul Turner made two tactical substitutions replacing the ever-impressive Kev Barrett and ice-cool Russ Bennett with the young half-back combo of Wynn and Smith!
The youngsters weren’t content to see the game out and instead took it to Scottish – Wynn persistently abrasive on the front foot and Smith impressive from the tee adding another six points in difficult conditions when given opportunities in the 64th and 77th minutes to increase Ampthill lead to 6 v 22.
A lot of teams would give in at this point, but credit must be given to the Scottish never say die attitude. In the 79th minute, they produced the best passage of play in the game. Building phases into the Ampthill 22 and then pressure towards the try line, they drew Ampthill very narrow before releasing the ball wide with pace towards full back Leo Fielding who capped a fine defensive performance by scoring a try in the corner, converted by May from the touchline. Final score 13 v 22.
Mark Lavery post-game “It was a very professional performance. The conditions didn’t allow us to cut loose so we played territory well, we were quite accurate, and the kicking team worked really well again. Russ and Fin are both kicking well and to get the first win on the road including preseason is a big step forward”
Captain Charlie Beckett “A massive win for us today, it’s a really hard place to come and play. I’ve been here 3 or 4 times before and never won! That Scottish team, especially the pack is very experienced. It wasn’t a day for a beautiful game, but we played the conditions and territory well. The half-backs were outstanding today, and it was a really good win for the team”