Mowden Park 14 1stXV 12, Sat Jan 7th, 2017
The Ampthill squad that travelled to Darlington on Friday saw a number of changes with the return of Nick Isiekwe at lock, Alex Mitchell at scrum half and Elliot Reeder at inside centre. The bench included debutant hooker Reece Marshall, a fit again lock Paino Hehea and rotated scrum half Gavin Williams.
Unfortunately for Amps, not withstanding the overnight stay, they still appeared to be on the bus as Mowden Park came out with all guns blazing missing an early penalty goal before scoring a controversial and excellently converted 5th minute score through their right wing who collected a cross field chip from their fly half and was awarded the try in the corner despite apparently being in touch before grounding the ball.
This was the signal for A’s to wake up and the next 20 minutes or so saw the visitors camped in the home 22 with multiple red zone phases eventually leading to a try by fly half Joseph Tarrant under the posts to which he added the extras.
The hosts responded by taking the game to Ampthill with much pressure in Amps 22 utimately resulting in a 10 minute rest for blindside Loti Molitka. However, A’s defence held out leaving the score 7-7 at oranges.
The second half saw the visitors set piece dominant but try as they might the hosts defence and some poor decision making prevented any score.
In the 65th minute a 5m scrum in the home sides 22 was driven back over the line but only a penalty was awarded. Ampthill chose another scrum and, with the packs again marching towards the line, Number 8 Maama Molitka picked up and fed scrum half Mitchell who touched down an unconverted try in the corner.
The missed conversion was to prove crucial and one wonders whether the the pushover or penalty try might not have been preferable.
Trailing 7-12 Mowden Park now turned the screw with multiple phases in the A’s 22 leading to a yellow card for Mitchell on 75 minutes.
The home side continued to pound the visitors line and secured what proved to be the winning score with a converted try just 2 minutes later.
The remaining time saw Ampthill fail to take advantage of field position with set piece errors and Mowden Park ran out deserved winners.
Director of Rugby Mark Lavery commented “I couldn’t fault the committment from the squad and there’s no argument about which side deserved to win but our lack of accuracy at key moments, our poor kicking from hand and our poor discipline leading to playing a quarter of the game a man down certainly helped Mowden”