Rosslyn Park 21 1stXV 27, Sat Apr 29, 2017, National 1
Ampthill travelled to the ‘Rock’, home of Rosslyn Park, for the last game of the National 1 season on an overcast, dry spring afternoon. Amps squad saw a number of changes, up front Ralph Adams-Hale started at prop with Matthew Burke returning at blindside. In the backs Kevin Barrett returned at scrum half alongside Mickey Wilson at fly half, Sam Hanks started at centre while Stefan Jones moved to full back. Gavin Williams provided backs cover on the bench.
In a game that was both a great advert for National 1 rugby and gave the lie to the concept of a dead rubber, Rosslyn Park, despite being down a man for 35 minutes, threatened to steal a win that saw all A’s territory & possession fail to subdue their opponents.
The visitors took the lead through an early Stef Jones penalty goal before the hosts struck back with a well taken 5th minute converted try. The next 30 minutes saw a stalemate as neither side bothered the scorers, the only significant action being the straight red for foul play issued on 35 minutes to Park’s scrum half matched by a 10 minute rest for Maama Molitika whose retaliation was deemed equally unnecessary leaving the score 7-3 and both sides down a man at oranges.
The second half began with Ampthill dominant but an interception inside their 22 and a length of the field break gave the home side a 14-3 lead.
With Ampthill restored to 15 players the pressure built until the 60th minute when lock Paino Hehea crashed over from close range wide on the left for an unconverted try.
Shortly after wing Sam Baker escaped the cover and crossed the whitewash with Jones adding the extras enabling Amps to take the lead for the lead for the second time in the game.
Despite playing with a man disadvantage for much of the second half Rosslyn Park always looked dangerous and they regained the lead on 75 minutes when the visitors failed to defend a breakdown giving a simple run in for another converted try and the lead 21-10.
A’s came back at the hosts mounting a siege in the red zone finally rewarded in the 80th minute with a last play of the game try from openside Joe Bercis converted by Jones leaving the score 21-27 at no side.
A bruising forward battle could have seen either side come out on top while Park deserve much credit for their against the odds performance.
Ampthill’s second season in National 1 sees them record their highest ever finish (3rd) with their highest ever points total (108). Our congratulations to Hartpury for a phenomenal season which will likely never be matched again while our commiserations go to Macclesfield and Blaydon, both of whom found their form too late this season.