Ampthill 10 Blackheath 15

Not the prettiest of contests, more of a slugging match between two decent packs, but no less exciting for that.  The game finished well beyond the 80 minute mark with Ampthill going through numerous phases after a tap penalty, seeking the try which would overturn Blackheath’s lead and maintain their unbeaten record, but eventually the turnover came and the visitors scrambled the ball into touch to claim their fifth win in succession.

But it was a deserved victory, thanks largely to a first half where the Club had played most of the rugby and, but for some inaccurate passing, might have created enough of a lead to have given themselves an easier second period.

An early drive was countered effectively by the visitors and with Ampthill allowing their discipline to slip, Blackheath soon had field position of their own from where Dave Allen crashed over for the open-side’s fifth try in as many matches, converted by Freddie Gabbitass.  Soon after, and with Blackheath still in the ascendancy, Tom Baldwin secured line-out ball on half-way and as Aston Croall, James Catt and Gregor Gillanders made yardage in midfield, Markus Burcham broke open the Ampthill defence in front of the uprights to give Jake Lloyd an easy stroll over the goal-line, and the Club a 12-0 lead on 20 minutes.

A penalty from Ampthill right-wing Elliot Clements-Hill quickly reduced the arrears to nine points, while Gabbitass saw his 33rd minute strike thump the upright, and as Blackheath were denied through poor final execution, the hosts saw a golden opportunity disappear as they conceded a free-kick from a five-metre scrum after Allen was sin-binned, leaving the score at 12-3 at the break.

As the leaden sky, over what was otherwise the delightful setting in rural Bedfordshire, produced a light shower, Ampthill began the second period in the style that had taken them to the top of National League One at the start of the day.

With improved discipline and better ball retention, they forced Blackheath into some desperate defence before the extra man told and blind-side Brian Tuilagi squeezed across in the right corner, Clements-Hill converting to cut the lead to two points.

Defences ruled as both sides repelled periods of pressure, not even a 59th minute yellow card for Ampthill second-row Karl Braben helping the visitors to get across the goal-line, while a crucial line-out steal from Baldwin, two scrum penalties won by Will Stuart, making his first appearance of the campaign at tight-head, and a brilliant cover tackle from Jack Walsh, thwarting a three-man overlap on the wide (and excellent) Dillingham Park playing surface were required to keep the hosts at bay.

Eventually, however, a 77th minute Gabbitass penalty, for not rolling away in front of the posts, stretched the advantage further than a penalty goal, giving Blackheath just enough daylight under the gloomy skies to hold on.

Next Saturday, Blackheath return to Rectory Field for their first home game in three weeks as they entertain Wharfedale.

Kick-off is 3.00 pm.


Tries:    Tuilagi
Conv:    Clements-Hill 
Pens:    Clements-Hill


Tries:    Allen, Lloyd
Conv:    Gabbitass
Pens:    Gabbitass