After a four match winning run, Broadstreet Rugby Football Club were driven to obstruction in an eleven try thriller against a second-placed Ampthill & District team who used the full power of their juggernaut pack to literally drive their way to a 33 – 52 flattering victory in the wintry sunshine of the Ivor Preece Field Rugby Ground , writes Bob Harcourt.
‘Street must take great heart and credit from their ‘against the odds’ performance in scoring a bonus-point four tries to the extremely able visitor’s seven; three of which came from lineout drives close in. ‘Street themselves spurned at least two sitters when, Ben Palmer spurned a two versus one overlap ten metres out after a scorching break and, full back Andy Murray knocked on under the shadow of the posts when trying to gather a kick ahead where a dribble would have done the trick; both were certain seven pointers!
‘Street started lively but a less than useful kick (must be more clinical when kicking) gave the visitors possession around half way, where fly half Joe Tarrant cut through after just two minutes. Converting his own try, Tarrant scored the first of his brace, in a Man-of-the Match performance with two tries, seven conversions and a penalty, [twenty seven points]; 0 – 7 Ampthill.
A minute later Ben Palmer reduced the deficit with a well-struck penalty, 3 – 7; and after the Ampthill scrum half Gavin Williams had been forced to knock on in a tackle by his opposite, Nick Thatcher; the latter took play into Ampthill territory with a quick tap & go from the following Ampthill scrum infringement and after a few phases from ‘Street’s forwards, lock Callum Tucker scored the second try of the afternoon with just ten minutes on the clock. 10 – 7. Palmer added a penalty three minutes later to extend the host’s lead to 13 – 7.
Following the re-start, pressure in Ampthill territory saw visiting centre Brendan Burke earn a yellow card for ‘killing’ play, giving Palmer a successful shot at goal; 13 – 7. ‘Street looked to add to their lead approaching the second quarter following good play by number eight Jack Gibbons; carried on by captain Beau Carney before fly half Ben Palmer broke through the visitor’s defence to leave a two versus one pass for a certain score. The pass never came and neither did the score [which would have given ‘Street a 20 – 7 lead]. From the tackle/ruck near the goal line, ‘Street spread the ball wide left where Carney, in the backline, lost possession and Tarrant kicked ahead, gathered and dotted down eighty metres up-field for a Christmas gift of a try. Tarrant converted giving Ampthill a fortuitous lead, against the run of play, 13 – 14.
From the kick-off the ball eventually found ground and flanker Carney hacked on. He was tackled without the ball but ‘Street full back, Andy Murray, also hacked into Ampthill’s 22 metre area where the ball looked to sit up for him in the bounce but that ‘fickle’ oval would not stay true and a second ‘sitter’ try went begging in the shadow of the posts. [27- 14 would have been nice!]. As it was, a defensive scrum allowed Ampthill to progress up-field where play was halted for a very serious leg break to Ampthill’s centre, Jonathan JJ Raven. [Broadstreet wish Jonathan a speedy and fully successful recovery and return to the Game]. At this juncture play was halted for twenty five minutes whilst all-important care and attention was afforded the luckless player.
Having been in domination for almost the first half hour, the unscheduled postponement noticeably took the sting out of ‘Street’s endeavours and boosted the visitor’s resolve, despite ‘Street scoring first on resuming, through a Josh Palmer try. The re-start saw the hosts sortie into Ampthill’s corner and having forced a defensive penalty ‘Street’s forwards drove the lineout catch and subsequently spun the ball wide right where ‘dyno-mite’ Josh Palmer astutely cut short to puncture the defence; brother Ben was unable to convert, 18 – 14 after just two minutes resumed play.
Ampthill, who had now started to get a foothold in the game, forced two five metre penalty lineouts from where they drove over for the ‘tail-gunner’ openside, Joe Bercis, to claim the glory for both; but not before Tarrant and Palmer had exchanged penalties in between the lineout drives, making the half time score, Broadstreet 21 Ampthill & District 31.
Play resumed with an Ampthill kick off and after a period of pressure, matched by the ‘Street defence, the visitors knocked-on twenty five meters out. Ampthill defended stoutly and the home-boys battled to gain ground, only to be pinged for a questionable ‘crossing.’ Successive penalties put Ampthill into ‘Street’s corner and for a third time the visitors blocked and drove over for an unstoppable Bercis credited try, ably converted from wide by Tarrant, thereby pushing the lead out to 21 – 38. ‘Street picked up a succession of penalties against them, but it has to be said that not all were justified, as in the case of clearly not being held in the tackle [Le Roux] and zero release time in the tackle [Carney] not to mention an erroneous back-line offside [Sandys] – players must know where they stand; there has to be consistency of application throughout a game! Ampthill, benefitting from ‘Street’s ‘indiscretions’ worked the lineout penalty again and drove over on 63 minutes to extend the gap to 21 – 45.
From the re-start Carney stole Ampthill ball giving ‘Street a penalty lineout ten metres from their opponent’s line. A defensive Infringement gave ‘Street another crack and from a scrummage near the left post; where Ampthill were made to retreat and wheel, a penalty try was justifiably awarded, 28 – 45. On restarting, an off-side Ampthill player cynically played the ball whilst retreating at a ruck [no yellow?] and Thatcher quickly tapped and was stopped illegally by another off-side retreating player. From the resultant penalty lineout, ‘Street played several phases before launching a handling attack down the right flank which resulted in blind side flanker Brett Daynes’ try. Myring was short with the kick, 33 – 45.
‘Street attacked after recovering their kick-off ball, but were halted again for another debateable ‘crossing’ in mid-field to end a promising advance. Ampthill cleared to half way but ‘Street pressure forced them back to a defensive scrum inside their 22 metre area, however, despite another build up, ‘Street were penalised in loose play and the visitors eventually worked their way to a penalty corner ten out from the home line. ‘Street did not engage the fractured Ampthill drive and Jamie Harrop was penalised for engaging the ball carrying faction of the non-maul? Ampthill took another lineout leading to an attacking scrum where flanker Carney was held illegally whilst Joe Sproston took the free channel to dive over. Whilst forcefully attempting to free himself from his captor, Carney was deemed to have punched and was, to many an observer, unjustifiably shown a red card. With on-song Tarrant’s conversion, the full time score finished at: - Broadstreet 33 Ampthill & District 52.
On the question of lineout mauls and in response to the self-appointed committee sage who naively questioned why ‘Street did not ‘sack’ Ampthill’s lineout – Mrs Freemantle came to the writer’s aid in proffering: - “You cannot physically ‘sack’ a catcher when his lifters angle in front of him! Perhaps an official more experienced than the fast-tracking youngster, Mr Turvey, may have spotted that; [Ed: and one or two other pieces of gamesmanship Mrs F?] but, the fact that it was not picked up by three officials is all power to Ampthill! Why wouldn’t they ‘play’ the referees…”? – I would”!
Thought for the game:
The game DVD shows that ‘Street enjoyed greater possession and territory over their visitors and deserved more from this encounter. Take away three well-practiced, but less than equivocal lineout drives, and the scoreboard may have read differently. The pace, concentration and organisation was commendable but, there can be no slump come next week (after a “big one”). The game next week is even bigger!
Squad: Andrew Murray; Ashley Elvers, James Otutaha, Luke Myring, Josh Palmer; Ben Palmer, Nick Thatcher; Joe Foreman, Stewart Pearl, Henry Sandys; Callum Tucker, Matthew Solomon; Brett Daynes, Beau Carney (Captain), Jack Gibbons. Rob Dugard, Jacques Le Roux, Gareth Turner, Jamie Harrop, Nathan Tilsley.