201911012 Ampthill 1st XV vs Nottingham

Match Report

Ampthill 1st XV 20 - Nottingham 44, Greene King IPA Championship League

Ampthill were given a tough introduction to the Championship by a physical and clinical Nottingham side, trailing 13-17 with a minute to half time Amps conceded 3 more tries in the remainder of the game with the visitors dominating territory & possession.

Despite persistent overnight & morning rain the pitch looked perfect for running rugby as conditions remained dry while the absence of wind aided kicking from hand.

Aleki Lutui attacking the Nottingham line
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

The opening exchanges were pretty even including an exchange of penalty goals in the 17th & 18th minutes after both sides were penalised in front of the posts.

Nottingham made the first breakthrough on 23 minutes after a penalty against Ampthill for a breakdown offence was kicked inside the home 22 and a catch & drive was driven over, hooker Luke Cole credited with the score with the extras added by fly half Thomas Mathews.

Lock Llewleyn Jones crashed over from close range on 28 minutes after a repeat of the first try scenario saw Amps repel the maul, Mathews again successful with the conversion.

Sam Hanks intercepts a pass and takes off down the pitch
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

Immediately from the kick off replacement centre Sam Hanks intercepted a loose pass just inside the Nottingham half scampering 45m to score wide on the left, Louis Grimoldby converting from the touch line.

Sam Hanks crosses the whitewash for Ampthills 1st Championship League try
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

A’s raised their game taking play to the visitors who proceeded to show their street smarts conceding 2 penalty goals (32 & 35 minutes, kicked by Louis Grimoldby) instead of conceding tries but avoiding the Yellow Cards that were to blight the remainder of the hosts performance.

With a minute to half time the home side were trailing 13-17 but a free kick inside Ampthill’s 22 was charged down leading to a score for Nottingham through blindside James Connolly, converted by Mathews.

Trailing 13-24 at oranges all was not lost but the hosts lost their way in the second as a series of errors gifted territory through penalties and possession through handling errors.

Mathews extended the visitors lead on 48 & 50 minutes with straight forward penalty goals before wing Ben Foley collected a grubber to score wide on the left in the 60th minute, Mathews continuing his 100% record with the boot.

Amps responded with their first controlled possession of the second half mounting sustained pressure inside the Nottingham 22 before replacement lock Jon Kpoku crashed over from close range on 63 minutes, Louis Grimoldby adding the extras.

Jon Kpoku forces his way across the line for Ampthill…
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

Down to 14 players for the fourth time in the game A’s conceded a 5th try on 79 minutes trying to achieve the unlikely feat of going the length of the field from inside their own 22.

This was a hard lesson, there’ll be many more of them if Ampthill continue to play more than 40 minutes a man down, gift 20 unnecessary points and end up on the wrong side of 18-6 penalty count.

On the the plus side set piece was good with scrums even and lineouts much improved from the Bedford game.

Final Score

Ampthill 20, Nottingham 44

For 39 minutes of the first half we were OK, the gifted try just before half time was a blow but it was the second half where we played in all the wrong areas and showed very poor discipline that was most disappointing. We played for more than 45 minutes with 14 men against an efficient, well drilled championship side and got what we deserved.
— Mark Lavery, Director of Rugby (Ampthill)
I’m disappointed that despite a good week spent preparing for Nottingham we sat back and watched them execute our game plan. There were too many individual errors which were punished by Nottingham
— Paul Turner, Head Coach (Ampthill)

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201910905 Bedford Blues vs Ampthill 1st XV

Match Report

Bedford Blues 12 - Ampthill 1st XV 25, Championship Cup

On what was a historic day for the Maroon and Gold, going to Goldington Road to play Bedford Blues for the short term title of the best team in Bedfordshire and the first competitive game between the two clubs, the A’s came away with a deserved win.

The Blues turned Pink for the day in support of the McMillan Cancer trust and they didn’t have the ideal start to the day with a couple of players failing fitness tests on the morning of the match.

The first forty minutes were separated by a Kwaku Asiedu try and a Louis Grimoldby penalty against a Dann Temm try. A loose kick let Rich Lane punish the A’s with a break down the right-hand side that led to a Teem try and a 5 v 8 half time score

Kwaku Aseidu opens the scoreline for Ampthill
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

With the elements and the slope in Paul Turners sides favour the A’s started to turn the screw and kept the pressure on the home side.

The A’s had spent the week working hard on defensive drills led by player forwards Coach Dave Ward and this proved critical when the Blues back line came probing the A’s defensive system but the A’s held firm in the face of the onslaught.

After gradually taking back control, an inch-perfect kick by Bordoli was regathered by Baker who found Jarryd Sage in support who dotted the ball down and fly-half Grimoldby converted for the A’s to lead 5 v 15.

Jarryd Sage comfortable clears the line to extend Ampthill's lead.
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

The Blues now had the joint battle against the clock and the slope and this led to a number of uncharacteristic mistakes and Kwaku Asiedu was on hand to take advantage and score his second try to put some breathing space between the teams at 5 v 20.

Kwaku Aseidu brushes the whitewash for Ampthill.
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

This signalled a Blues fight back and on 71 minutes Huw Worthington the Blues number eight who had carried hard all day scored a converted try to leave the score at 12 v 20.

The A’s responded again, camping in the Blues half and keeping the ball down in the right-hand corner for multiple phases. Backs and Forwards shared the workload equally and finally Karim Lynch crashed over in the right hand corner for the A’s fourth and bonus point try to leave the final score at Blues 12 v 25 A’s.

Karim Lynch justifying his return to Ampthill with a closing try.
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

A’s fans left a packed Goldington Road with a skip in their step and the first points of the season in the bag.

Joshua Sharp takes a penalty for Ampthill to open their scoreline
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

Final Score

Bedford Blues 12, Ampthill 25

It was a great occasion to be a part of and to have so many supporters there to raise money for McMillan Cancer Trust made it really special day.
I thought we played well for large parts of the game but we still need to improve our set piece. Defensively we took a big step forward and relied on our system more than individual effort which was pleasing.
It’s only our third game together and it’s been a tough start to the season but we are progressing every week and next week we see Nottingham Rugby come to Dillingham Park for our first game ever in the Green King IPA Championship.
— Paul Turner, Head Coach (Ampthill)

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20190921 Ampthill 1st XV vs Coventry

Match Report

Ampthill 1st XV 17 – Coventry 1st XV 47, Championship Cup

Ampthill welcomed Coventry to Olney Field for their first ever match at Level 2 on a cloudless sunny afternoon with a stiff south easterly breeze in favour of the visitors for the first half.

With the club house doubled in size by the addition of a large marquee bar and major infrastructure changes obvious around the pitch it was clear to both home and away spectators that significant investment had been made in the close season in preparation for the Greene King IPA Championship.

Coventry gain the upper hand from a high kick
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

The hosts connections were aware that the visitors had recruited well adding 8 players with Premiership and/or Pro 12 experience to their squad over the summer while their pre-season preparation included 4 games of which the only loss came against Leinster!

Ampthill had plenty of attempts but things never seemed to quite work out…
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

Meanwhile the home squad would be having their first run out with 11 players making their debut including forwards coach Dave Ward & backs coach Darryl Veenendahl.

Nana Asiedu takes on James Stokes…
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

The game began with a fine line break from home fly half Josh Sharp who sliced through the Coventry defence in mid-field leaving a simple pass to one of two supporting runners for an obvious opening score, sadly the pass went astray and the chance went begging. Little did Amps spectators realise that that flurry would be the last time Amps would threaten to score until the last few minutes of the first half.

Joshua Sharp takes a penalty for Ampthill to open their scoreline
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

A demonstration of power and ruthless finishing followed in which the visitors scored 6 unanswered tries capitalising on a series of unforced errors combined with ill-discipline from A’s who were regularly penalised at the breakdown, knocking on and missing tackles. In short the first half was a horror show for the hosts leaving the score 3-40 at oranges, Ampthill’s last kick of the half penalty goal being greeted with cheers.

Joe Bercis crosses the line for Ampthill despite two admirers…
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

After an appropriate talking to at half time Amps second half was much better, dominating possession and territory for much of the half. A’s outscored their hosts 14-7 and probably should have had a couple more tries. Coventry’s defence was outstanding, however, despite being on the back foot most of the time.

Alexi Lutui powering through the Coventry defence on the way to the line…
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

Amps line out struggled until the last quarter while their scrummage was under pressure. A’s benefited from the first half game time and were much more competitive in the second despite playing the last 15 minutes or so with 14 players after an emptied bench and a subsequent injury to Captain Billy Johnson.

Gavin Williams puts the breaks on Ratu Jonasa Bulumakau
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

Next week Ampthill travel to Ealing for what will likely be another stiff lesson.

Final Score

Ampthill 17, Coventry 47

Firstly I thought Coventry were absolutely fantastic in the first forty minutes demonstrating how to put pressure on the team in possession and then capitalise on the errors of which there were many.

We shouldn’t forget Coventry have only been beaten once in pre-season against the second best team in Europe Leinster so it was always going to be a massive ask today.

In the first half we lacked composure and this led to a lot of errors whilst playing in the wrong areas. Our discipline went and Coventry were clinical in their execution leaving us rightly down 3-40.

The second half was a different story and when you consider that we played 17 minutes with 14 men because our bench had been emptied when Captain Billy Johnson had to go off injured it was a lot more encouraging.

A really good exercise while a number of the starting XV will have to take a long hard look at themselves having plenty to work on while in the second period the bench brought real energy and dynamism to the contest.

We should also remember we have come up against a battle hardened Coventry side and its our first run out so lots of positives and things we can improve.

A’s have very different targets to Coventry this season so we will dust ourselves down and reset this week before we prepare to play the reigning Champions Ealing Trailfinders next week on the road.

I know what your thinking but don’t, its all part of our journey, come on Amps!

Thank you to our army of volunteers who worked tirelessly to make sure we were ready for the weekend and thank you to all the travelling Coventry support for being so patient whilst we dealt with some organisational issues in our first game we have played in the Championship Cup.
— Mark Lavery, Director of Rugby (Ampthill)

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20190427 Loughborough Students vs Ampthill 1st XV

Match Report

Loughborough Students 20 – 52 1st XV, National One

In what turned out to be the biggest day in Ampthill RUFC’s history, our Champions elect finished the season in fine style with a 52 v 20 win on the road at Loughborough University.

The A’s started well, controlling territory and possession despite playing into a very strong wind. Maama Molitika started the scoring after multiple phases he crashed over to the left of the posts converted by A’s and Blues legend James Pritchard playing in his final game of senior rugby. James Pritchard you have been a star and best of luck in the next stage of your life and your return to Australia.

Maama Molitika opens the scoring for Ampthill
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

The Students responded with a try of their own after 20 mins to leave the scores at 5 v 7.

The front row decided to take control of the game with a strong carry from Matt Collins to crash over and again converted by James Pritchard.

Matt Collins crosses the whitewash for Ampthill’s second try
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

The A’s were awarded a penalty that was kicked to the corner and Aleki Lutui assisting Sam Hudson another score from the stock catch and drive this time converted by Josh Sharp as Pritchard was off having running repairs. Aleki Lutui has bagged 15 try’s this season which shows how effective the Maroon and Gold driving line-out has become.

Aleki Lutui provding the extra drive to get Sam Hudson over the line for Ampthill’s third try of the first half!
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

Perhaps the try of the game and the score that took the A’s to the Green King IPA Championship started with replacement full back Mike Waters probing the right hand side of the Students defence. The ball was recycled through four sets of hands to put Joe Bercis in on the left hand corner and the celebrations could begin. Sharp missing the conversion and the scores stood at 5 v 26 at oranges.

Joe Bercis sneaks over the line just before half time to seal the deal for Ampthill’s promotion
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

The game to all intents and purposes was over as a contest but both sides exchanged try’s with the Students scoring three further try’s and Ampthill scoring four.

1st try of the second half from Sam Hudson and number 5 for Ampthill
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

Will Allman crosses the line easily for Ampthill’s 6th try
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

Sam Baker lands just by the post for Ampthill’s seventh try of the match
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

Sam Baker holding the ball as the Maul drives over the line giving Ampthill their eight try of the match
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

Leaving the final scores at Loughborough 20 v 52 Ampthill and confirmation that the mighty A’s are National 1 Champions and we are heading to the Green King IPA Championship for the first time in our history.

Ampthill celebrate the end result of winning the league
(Photo: Iain Frankish, Actuance Photography)

Final Score

Loughborough 22, Ampthill 52

I would like to thank Paul Turner and his coaching team for a truly fantastic effort in winning National 1 for the first time in our history.
Team Manager Ian Bremner and Head of Medical Michael Dwyer for all there help and assistance behind the scenes which without the unseen work we wouldn’t have won the league.
Thank you to all our supporters who have stuck with us through good and not so good times and especially those who made the Loughborough game feel like we were at Dillingham Park.
Last but not least the outstanding efforts from our first team squad who have not only won National 1 but with the 1881s winning Zoo 1 as well it’s yet another historic result and the first time we have done this in our history.
As the curtain comes down on the season our four senior teams have all won their respective divisions and once more I find myself wondering how we can ever better that, but I have thought that for the last five seasons so I’m sure we will find a way.
Hope to see you all at the Club Dinner Dance when we can celebrate what has been the best season in the Ampthill and District Rugby Clubs History.
— Mark Lavery, Director of Rugby (Ampthill)

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