Old Albanian 35 1stXV 35, Sat Dec 23, 2017, National 1
Ampthill made the short trip down the M1 to closest rivals Old Albanian for the Christmas local derby.
Amps produced a curates egg performance, when A’s played in structure the hosts had no answer to their power and accuracy, when they abandoned structure they gifted the home side points.
The visitors began by taking the lead on 8 minutes through wing James Pritchard’s penalty goal.
The 13th minute saw Peter Weightman, making his first start for the 1stXV at centre, cross for a try which, though straightforward went unconverted, a theme that continued throughout the game as Pritchard was successful with just one of six conversion attempts.
Albanian replied with a 23rd minute penalty goal but Ampthill, who were having their best period of the game, scored straight from the kick off on 24 minutes through Pritchard who converted his own try.
Sam Baker added another unconverted try in the 30th minute after backs and forwards had combined together in what was a contender for try of the season.
A 39th minute OAs drop goal completed the first half leaving the score 6-20 at oranges.
Having produced a mostly disciplined first half Amps appeared to lose concentration for periods of the second, looking as if they were trying to play the way the home side wanted in a broken field, open style which was clearly not part of the game plan.
On 46 minutes the hosts closed the gap to just one score with a converted try after the visitors, on the attack, chose & executed a very poor cross field kick which lost possession. A great effort recovered the ball only for a 5 man overlap to be ignored for an option that gifted the ball to the opposition who proceeded to run 60m!
It’s disappointing that the players who are repeatedly making errors are those who show the least interest in reviewing those errors via our video library!
A’s restored the 2 score margin with a 51st minute unconverted try through openside Joe Bercis after the pack executed a catch & drive.
With the game now completely open and defence optional the pattern repeated itself with Old Albanian crossing for a 53rd minute unconverted try only for the visitors to respond just 2 minutes later with Bercis’ second try, this time from second phase following a 5m scrum.
OAs were now handed two tries on a plate through handling error turnovers, the first on 56 minutes converted, the second on 65 minutes unconverted leaving the score 25-30.
Ampthill’s Bercis finished his hat-trick by scoring the visitors 6th and final try with the conversion hitting the post and deflecting wide on 72 minutes to extend the lead back to two scores.
Sadly for Amps, their Christmas spirit was high and they gifted those scores to the hosts conceding an unnecessary 75th minute penalty goal as well as yet another intercept try with the last play of the game. Credit to home side’s goal kicking because the well struck conversion sailed between the posts to level the scores and end the game.
A poor second half defensive performance from A’s was doubled up by unnecessary turnovers when on the attack, Old Albanians clinically took advantage when the visitors allowed them to play in a loose and open style.
Ampthill did not get the rub of the green with some officiating decisions in the last 10 minutes. A neutral might of enjoyed a total of 10 tries but Ampthill’s connections could not of been happy as their team threw away the game.
Director of Rugby Mark Lavery comments “I really feel for our magnificent forwards who throughout the season have put in a heroic effort only to be badly let down by some members of the back division.
When the backs do what we ask we look like a top three side, when they don’t we look like a bottom three side which is frankly just not good enough for this club.
I hope the Christmas break helps reset the season and our backs come back ready to follow the game plan“