1stXV Draw At League Leaders Old Elthamians
Ampthill travelled to College Meadow on a dry autumnal afternoon to face league leaders Old Elthamians with a number of changes to the squad.
Up front Alex Coles* returned to the engine room while flanker Will Allman replaced openside Joe Bercis. In the backs Kevin Barrett returned at scrum half while Ciaran Whyte moved to fly half to cover Josh Sharp’s injury, James Pritchard returning at full back after an extended injury absence. The bench saw Syd Blackmore covering hooker while Sean Reffell* returned to cover the back row.
The hosts began the game with the benefit of the elements taking the lead on 5 minutes with a penalty goal from fly half Thomas White.
Amps responded straight from the kick off with a fine try through Captain and blindside Billy Johnson converted by Pritchard.
A’s spent most of the remainder of the half camped in opposition territory but inaccuracy at the driving line out and fluffed chances came back to bite them when a superb cross field kick by OE’s White caught the defence napping allowing full back Charles Dockery to cross for a 37th minute try, White adding the extras.
There was still time for Ampthill to draw level when Elthamians went straight off their feet at the breakdown allowing Pritchard to kick a last play of the half penalty goal leaving the score 10-10 at oranges.
Playing the second half with the elements the visitors connections were disappointed to concede a 43rd minute penalty allowing White to regain the lead for the hosts.
Amps scrum had been dominant most of the day but lineouts were more even, however the home side had the upper hand in the loose securing multiple turnovers due to sloppy and inaccurate rucking from A’s.
Another period of Ampthill possession was again characterised by poor concentration during drives while Eltamians repeatedly added to Amps problems through their committed defence.
A’s went down to 14 players on 63 minutes after a yellow card was issued to replacement Reffell but this seemed to inspire the team leading to them setting up camp in the hosts half, sadly the combination of excellent defence from the home side and poor execution in attack left the scoreboard untroubled.
The 68th minute saw the visitors awarded a penalty from a kickable position, Pritchard making no mistake to tie the score at 13-13.
The last 10 minutes saw Ampthill in control but again failing to seal the game before the pack won an 80th minute penalty at a scrum after shunting their opposite numbers backward. Unfortunately, Pritchard’s attempt slid past the right hand post leaving spoils shared.
Director of Rugby Mark Lavery commented “Lots of positives but we need to be a lot more accurate if we are going to push on. We had enough possession and territory but not enough accuracy or composure.“