1stXV Secure Bonus Point Victory In Yorkshire
Ampthill travelled to Yorkshire for their first ever visit to Clifton Lane to face Rotherham needing a win to maintain their promotion challenge.
Rotherham, a proper rugby club run by rugby people, extended a welcome that was nothing short of exceptional.
Amps started well, despite playing into a strongish wind, controlling possession for the first five minutes. Sadly, a wayward A’s lineout saw a the Titans break down field eventually camping in the visitors 22. A defensive system error when two players attempted and failed to take down the ball carrier led to the home side taking the lead with a converted try on 6 minutes.
A strong response from Ampthill saw man of the match lock Jon Kpoku crash over to the left of the posts, full back James Pritchard adding the conversion to level the scores in the 20th minute.
With Amps again in the hosts territory wing Sam Baker finished a fine backs move to score wide on the left, Pritchard adding the extras on 25 minutes.
A’s centre Olly Morris was having an outstanding game both defensively and with ball in hand. He secured the visitors 3rd try wide on the right just before half time. This time Pritchard’s conversion attempt missed leaving the score at half time 7-19.
Up front the half had seen both forward packs knocking lumps out of each other in a ferocious contest. Ampthill’s lineout was an area of concern while the very real contest at the scrummage offered the perfect workout before the big game next week against top of the table Old Elthamians at Dillingham Park.
Now playing with the benefit of the wind Amps connections would have been confident but Rotherham soon made them uncomfortable. First they took advantage of poor ruck defence to break loose just inside the A’s half racing 35m to touch down an unconverted try on 50 minutes reducing the deficit to just one score.
The visitors response saw them run multiple phases deep in the red zone before Captain & blindside Billy Johnson drove through the last man to touch down a 56th minute bonus point securing try converted by Pritchard.
Playing his first game of this season former regular dual registered with Saracens prop Ralph Adams-Hale then took an inside pass from fly half Josh Sharp to scamper 15m and score a fine try converted by Pritchard to take the score to 12-33 with 20 minutes to play.
Lesser sides than Rotherham would have folded under this level of pressure but the Titans are a proud club with a great tradition and they fought back immediately with a 63rd minute converted try.
Back in the home half the visitors were awarded a penalty 30m out which Sharp converted to extend the lead to three scores at 19 v 36.
The hosts responded with a prolonged period of pressure in Ampthill’s red zone using the set piece as an attacking weapon. A series of scrums eventually saw the referee lose patience leading to Amps tight head Matt Collins’ harsh yellow card for dropping the scrum, an incident that will require careful review on the match video.
Amps replaced a back with a prop but the ensuing scrum saw the ball moved left. The home side made their extra man count to score their 4th and deserved bonus point converted try in the 11th minute of time added on!
Head Coach Paul Turner commented “I don’t think we were as accurate as we were last week and defensively we need to tighten up but our attacking game is in good shape and we have a number of things to work on during the week”.
The 1881s continued their great form with a bonus point win on the road at Rams maintaining their position at the top of Zoo division 1. Next week Old Elthamians bring both their 1st & 2nd XVs to Dillingham Park. We need all our supporters to attend what will be a massive festival of top class rugby.