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.
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.
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.
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.
Ampthill 20, Nottingham 44
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