1st Secure Try Bonus Point In Second Ever Win At The Northern Echo Arena
Ampthill arrived at the Northern Echo arena to find bright sunshine and a hard dry track As is always the case when these sides meet a ripper of a contest resulted Amps second ever win in County Durham.
Just like the reverse fixture at Dillingham Park A’s came out of the blocks fast being nearly unplayable for 30 minutes.
Hooker Aleki Lutui opened the scoring in the 12th minute after Mowden Park were penalised, Sharp kicking to the corner. A trademark catch & drive ensued with the Tongan, making his 100th appearance for the visitors, coming up with the ball. Centre James Pritchard adding the conversion.
The home side responded well working their way into Ampthill’s half but openside flanker Joe Bercis turned the ball over leading to full back Ciaran Whyte breaking the line. Given great support from Pritchard, Whyte scored a fine try in the 19th minute, Pritchard adding the extras.
On 26 minutes with the hosts under pressure in their red zone, Amps pack kept the ball tight leading to Man-of-the-Match lock Jon Kpoku crashing over to the left of the posts. Pritchard again successful with the conversion.
A’s were on fire with the 30th minute seeing a training ground move produce a fine try for centre Sam Hanks. First Mowden Park were penalised and the resulting penalty kicked to the corner. The lineout saw what looked like another catch & drive set up but flanker Bercis pulled away hitting Sam Hanks at pace whose hard line beat the cover to allow him to touch down under the posts. Pritchard keeping his 100% kicking record to extend the lead to 28 points.
A lesser side than DMP might have capitulated but they regrouped and started to edge back into the game. Eventually camped in the visitors red zone multiple phases led to a yellow card for Hanks. Despite strong defence the dam finally broke on the stroke of half time with a deserved unconverted try for the home side which left the score 5-28 at oranges with Amps having already secured the all important 4 try bonus point.
The hosts came out of the changing rooms fired up forcing an under pressure defensive mix up which allowed the home full back loose down the right to score a converted try on 55 minutes.
With the visitors still down to 14 players, Kpoku had to leave the field injured. The tide had now turned well & truly in DMP’s favour .
A’s were under the pump and constant pressure leading to an unnecessary attempt to run the ball out of the red zone. The resulting penalty for holding on saw a quick tap and a close range converted try to the hosts on 57 minutes bring the score to 19-28.
With the home side’s tails up Ampthill needed a response which came from flyhalf Josh Sharp’s line break inside Mowden Park’s 22. A fine offload to centre Pritchard and great support saw Sharp take the return pass to scored to the right of posts, Pritchard’s conversion hitting a post.
With 5 minutes to play the home side scored a fine converted try to secure their 4 try bonus point and bring them within 1 score at 26-33.
Despite Mowden Park’s best efforts the visitors held out until the final whistle to secure their 9th consecutive win.
This was literally a game of two halves with Ampthill outscoring their hosts 1 try to 4 in the first half before themselves being outscored 3 tries to 1 in the second. However, a potential banana skin has been avoided and 5 league points secured.
Head Coach Paul Turner commented “The Northern Echo is one of the most difficult away trips to secure any points, let alone a bonus point win. We did enough to deserve the points but there are lots of things to work on.
We didn’t stick to the plan enough, our concentration and application will need to improve for next weeks massive game against Rosslyn Park.“