Broadstreet Rugby Football Club travelled to sunny Dillingham Park, Bedfordshire to take on title chasers Ampthill & District in a game which meant everything to the hosts and a dead rubber to the visitors. Nevertheless, both teams endeavoured to deliver running rugby but a gusting wind, too many unforced errors by players from both sides; plus a plethora of whistle, made this a frustrating, dis-jointed affair, writes Bob Harcourt.
Ampthill opened the game and kicked deep into ‘Street territory. As ever, number eight Jack Gibbons fielded and with the aid of his fellow forwards, made ground to halfway. Ampthill were awarded a couple of baffling penalties at rucks; an area of the game that, together with scrummaging, was to prove frustrating with contradictory interpretation throughout. From the following five metre penalty lineout in the left corner the home side drove and blind side Brendan Burke got the touch down but his subsequent conversion attempt sailed wide of the uprights, Ampthill 5 Broadstreet 0.
After the re-start ‘Street worked their way into home territory and at a ruck Ampthill slowed release and fly half Ben Cooper pulled back points with a less than easy penalty shot; Ampthill 5 Broadstreet 3.
Not long after Ampthill kicked high and ‘Street were off-side in playing the knocked on receipt. Ampthill drove again from the penalty lineout but ‘Street’s forwards burgled the ball. At the next scrum the visitors were penalised again and Ampthill repeated the penalty lineout drive; this time successfully with Burke claiming his second touchdown and converting his own try, Ampthill 12 Broadstreet 3
Approaching the half hour ‘Street put together some good phase play and from a lineout left of field, broke towards the posts where ‘astute’ defending surrendered a penalty in front of the posts. This followed previous red zone offending and the Ampthill players were warned regarding further indiscretions but, a warning was all that transpired! (Makes giving away penalties near your own line profitable, does it not?) Cooper slotted the kick, Ampthill 12 Broadstreet 6.
The long kick re-start saw Ampthill pressurise in the left corner again and on moving the ball wide right looked dangerous, but a great steal by centre James Otutaha gave ‘Street the chance to clear to half way, however, they knocked on and from advantage allowed, Ampthill to drove back to the visitor’s goal line and only a double movement by an Ampthill player prevented him being awarded a score. ‘Street adventurously ran from their own line and Ampthill failed to retreat the required ten metres. In exiting their 22 metre area, centre Beau Carney pulled off a raking left foot kick from his own 22 deep into the opposition’s half. ‘Street nearly snapped up Ampthill’s bobbling ball but it was eventually won and then given up through a not straight throw at the next lineout after Ampthill’s clearing kick had been taken back into the 22 metre area. A chance for ‘Street went begging!
Half Time: Ampthill 12 Broadstreet 6.
‘Street kicked off, Ampthill knocked on and were penalised at the ensuing scrummage. The visitor’s Cooper landed his third penalty from three attempts in difficult windy conditions; Ampthill 12 Broadstreet 9 after 42 minutes. From the re-start a ‘Street player similarly knocked on deep in the left corner and Ampthill punished their opponents when ‘Street were penalised at the scrummage. The inevitable penalty lineout drive, which ‘Street initially negated through astute defence, together with a series of pick and go, saw number 8 Maama Molitika power over for a try on 46 minutes. Burke converted and the home side took a healthy 19 – 9 lead. Ampthill knocked on in the restart chase; however, it was frustrating to see the ‘Street pack penalised as number 8 Jack Gibbons had control of the ball at the base as Ampthill merely pushed ‘Street backwards! Result, penalty line out drive, ball moved to left hand corner, unconverted try for prop Joe Sproston; Ampthill 24 Broadstreet 9 as the home side enjoyed a purple patch.
‘Street’s Cooper landed his fourth penalty kick as Amp’s forwards were offside from a botched up and under clearance kick shortly after the restart; Ampthill 24 Broadstreet 12. Thereafter, some poor play by ‘Street resulted in two soft killer tries as Ampthill put the game potentially out of reach. The first came from an aimless grubber kick in defence being gathered by the grateful home winger, allowing a home counter attack and an easy try for hooker Villiami Ma’asi, up in support of his threequarters. With Burke converting, the lead took an ominous jump to, Ampthill 31 Broadstreet 12 and still twenty minutes to go. Next, and just before the seventy minute mark, a missed tackle in what had been up until then a solid back line defence, full back Karim Lynch dummied through for an easy unconverted try; Ampthill 36 Broadstreet 12. Nevertheless, as has been their hallmark throughout this season, ‘Street rarely, if ever, have given up until the final whistle and so it was this time out as some tenacious play set up two well-deserved tries in the last ten minutes. From a penalty line out the forwards drove and after two hits, spun the ball wide left, where centre Andrew Murray was unmarked and free to run in from 30 metres out. Cooper converted; Ampthill 36 Broadstreet 19
From the restart, ‘Street spun the ball around eventually opening up space for winger Nathan Tilsley and James Otutaha to both push deep into Ampthill territory. Powerful forward work followed and as ‘Street’s eight drove to the line, Ampthill forwards collapsed the maul justifying the award of a penalty try. Cooper made it six out of six in an immaculate display of kicking, despite a very swirling wind throughout; Ampthill 36 Broadstreet 26. In the few remaining minutes and their team in the ascendency, ‘Street supporters hoped for another try, but the seemingly tiring home side closed up and there was to be no further scoring. Final Score: Ampthill 36 Broadstreet 26.
Thought For The Game:
Mrs Freemantle has more than once asked: “Why do I get the impression that 50-50 decisions go mostly the way of a home team”? Yes, Interesting! The fact that there are more home wins than away wins is said by some to be probably down to travelling, but, to others it is seen as mostly down to the mind-set differences in being either at home or away. If players are subconsciously influenced in this way, does it follow that the officials may be influenced on occasions by vociferous home officials and supporters? Personally, I believe that grass is grass wherever it is and that to refer to home or away is to foster those different, unhelpful, mind-set ideas. Officials over the years have conceded that they probably have been, subconsciously, influenced by baying home crowds; they would not be human if they were not! So, if all this is actuality, then a mid-table team losing away from home by 36 – 26 against a top, promotion seeking, team is a good result. Well done lads!
Squad: Andrew Murray, Jefferey Gregson, Beau Carney, James Otutaha, Nathan Tilsley, Benjamin Cooper, Nick Thatcher, Jake Dodd, Stewart Pearl, Henry Sandys, Aaron Crofts, Matthew Solomon, Gareth Turner, Jamie Harrop, Jack Gibbons, Joe Foreman, Michael Worthington, Callum Tucker, Dan Martin, Sam Gibbons.