Match Report: Club 24 Ampthill 31

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Club Leave It Far Too Late To Play Their Game

This week Blackheath left the field wondering why it was that they waited so long before they started to play their own game. In a match that saw a total of 9 try’s scored including a penalty try but not a single penalty kick you could be forgiven for thinking it was a classic.

Club always knew this would be a tough game against a very impressive and powerful Ampthill side and so it proved as the visitors have clearly hit a rich vein of form of late and they were to score first try after dominating the early possession.  Many in the crowd were vocal in their opinions that most of the dummy runners appeared to be causing genuine obstructions and creating gaps for the Ampthill runners but sadly absolutely no decisions were awarded to the home side for that particular offence.  Whilst some imminently kickable penalties were awarded to both teams neither opted for 3 points but instead both sought touch with their kicks and both backed their catch and drives.

It was in the 20th minute that Ampthill had an attacking scrum just inside the Blackheath 22 and a well spotted and executed break down the completely unmarked blindside enabled Will Foster to get over the line for the try.

The visitors second try was soon to follow after what was an unexplained penalty Ampthill again went for the line out and set up a decent driving maul and when stopped and stumbled to ground the referee astonishingly awarded a penalty try much to the home fans horror. This put Club 12-0 behind after only 25 minutes.

Some of the Blackheath players suddenly realised that the mountain they were climbing had just gotten even higher and rallied themselves as we have witnessed many times this season. A series of powerful carries worked upfield and eventually led to a penalty and now it was the turn of the home side to execute a powerful and well organised catch and drive that saw Mike Perks touch down over the whitewash. Sadly Joe Tarrant could not convert the conversion and the deficit was only reduced by 5 points when the full 7 would have almost certainly given more encouragement to the home side. This also meant that when Ampthill scored and converted their third try just towards the end of the first half the scoreline was 5-19 at half time.

Similar to the previous week at Darlington Mowden Park the Club came out of the dressing room with a little more purpose and leading from the front (as always) Captain Markus Burcham made some good breaks and with it some excellent ground. Sadly too many simple handling errors were costing Blackheath and momentum was lost on too many occasions. But the Blackheath players kept going at Ampthill and eventually after what was to be a rare sequence of phases Alex Pickersgill edged over for a Club try. This time the conversion was good and the score line started to look a little more promising for the home side at 12-19. Club looked like they had decided it was time to get back on terms and after another clean break from skipper Burcham the home side were awarded a penalty which led to a second successful catch and drive involving forwards and backs this time with Danny Herriot getting over the line. With a conversion to come it looked as though the scores would at last be level at 19-19 and that we would be set for a thrilling last thirty minutes but unfortunately and for the second time in the game Tarrant missed the kick and the opportunity to tie the scores was lost and sadly that was the closest Club would come to overhauling their opponents all day. It was Ampthill’s turn next and their pack utilising the driving maul from line out ball soon started to come into its own and they scored two tries after successfully driving Club back to take the score away to 17-31.

Then with 5 minutes remaining it happened and Blackheath started playing the type of rugby regular visitors to Well Hall have become accustomed to this season and after some skill, pace and belief in what they were doing they worked with quality through the phases for what seemed like the first time in the game and of course it resulted in a wonderful try finished off by Freddie Owen which sealed a bonus point. But the kick was needed if Blackheath were to secure two vital losing bonus points and so it was thanks to Joe Tarrant who kicked this one no problem at all.

That was the final whistle and all Club players and supporters were left wondering why they had left it so late to show what they can actually do when they keep the ball in hand.

Ampthill are clearly in fine form at the moment and they are no doubt going to put some sides to the sword during the remainder of the season especially when they play at home.

The closest National One in years continues to excite everyone as Blackheath’s crucial 2 points keep us in 3rd place and only 2 points behind Ampthill now in 1st place.

There’s a very large Club contingent making the short trip to South West London for the visit to Rosslyn Park on Saturday – if you can make it too then make sure you come with your best spectator voice to cheer on the lads.

Tim Brindle

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