Old Elthamians 6 1stXV 18, Fri Mar 30, 2018, National 1
Ampthill travelled to Kent on Friday to face Old Elthamians in what became monsoon conditions with standing water all over the pitch. With the 1881’s securing revenge 8-14 for their pre-Christmas home defeat the 1stXV battled until the final whistle to secure a double over Old Elthamians.
The pitch was at best described as rather moist but Amps, in their black away kit, got off the bus early and got on with the job. Straight from the kick off the A’s pressed the home side back into their 22 and took advantage when openside Joe Bercis charged down a clearance, re-gathered and touched down on 2 minutes with wing James Pritchard adding the extras.
OE’s response was immediate and it was soon obvious that, despite the very wet conditions, this was going to be a ferocious match with both sides going at each other hammer & tongs.
On 25 minutes the visitors extended their lead with a Pritchard penalty goal.
Ampthill continued to turn the screw but despite having much of the ball were unable to turn pressure into points until the 32nd minute when Pritchard slotted his second penalty goal.
The home side now took control and battered A’s eventually converting a penalty goal to trail 3-13 at oranges.
Having chosen to play against the wind in the first half OE’s would now have the benefit of the further deteriorating conditions. The second half proved to be a war between two well matched packs and two engaged sets of backs.
Elthamians were on point and after multiple phases in the red zone were awarded and were succesful with a second penalty goal to narrow the lead to one score.
At this point the game could have gone either way but the visitors stepped up with prop Josh White, on debut having worked his way through the senior sides this season, leading by example keeping the scrum tight to secure a crucial penalty which both relieved pressure and gained much territory.
The next scrum shoved the hosts off the ball securing another penalty which was kicked to the corner. A trade mark catch & drive saw Captain Billy Johnson touch down an unconverted try to extend the lead to 12 points.
The remainder of the game belonged to the home side as they battered at an outstanding Ampthill defence which managed to close the game out to conclude a very hard fought and well deserved victory.
A well organised and motivated if weakened home side pushed Ampthill to the limit, however Amps defence gave one of their most committed performances of the season to prevent the hosts from scoring a try.
Old Elthamians 2ndXV 8 Ampthill 1881 14
The 1881s secured victory in a game that was abandoned after 60 minutes due to the aweful conditions.
Trailing 3-7 at half time OEs, having had the benefit of the wind and slope, had suggested to the referee that the game be abandoned but Ampthill captain and most capped player Matt Burke was unmoved resulting in the game continuing to the point that the result could stand.
Prop Simon Spavins last played for Ampthill 1stXV in 2006 but rolled back the years with a fine performance that included a try.
The result saw the 1881s maintain 3rd place in Zoo Shield Division 1 but close the gap to their hosts to just to 1pt.