Old Elthamians had to settle for a share of the spoils in this top-of-the-table clash at College Meadow on Saturday after Ampthill missed a golden opportunity to secure victory at the death.

Visitors full-back James Pritchard pushed a straightforward penalty wide with the final kick of the match much to the relief of the home side who had been forced to withstand sustained pressure for the final quarter of this hard fought contest.

In a tight, error-strewn first half, the powerful Ampthill pack took a firm stranglehold on proceedings after Elthamians had taken an early 3-0 lead with a Tom White penalty.

They scored the first try of the game on eight minutes when flanker Billy Johnson charged over after a sniping break from scrum-half Kevin Barrett on the edge of the home 22.

But despite enjoying the majority of possession and territory in the opening period, they could find no way through some outstanding Elthamians defence.

It was the home side who got on the scoreboard next with what was to prove their only try of the game three minutes before the interval, full-back Charlie Dockery collecting White’s curling cross-field kick to race over in the corner.

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There were was still time for Pritchard to level the scores at half-time with a well struck penalty.

Elthamians started the second period strongly with their forwards building through the phases patiently and driving deep into Ampthill territory.

White and Pritchard swapped penalties and with nothing to separate the two sides on the hour, it was the big Ampthill forwards who began to exert heavy pressure in and around the OEs 22.

However, they could not penetrate another impressive Elthamians defensive effort, epitomised by outstanding centre Kieran Moffat who made two massive tackles and forced a turnover in the space of a minute to deny the visitors a try.

Elthamians head coach Sam Howard said afterwards: “I’m not sure whether to be disappointed or relieved! If they get that kick at the end which they would normally do 99 times out of 100 we come away with one point to their four points. So to come away even at the end is a damn sight better!

“I thought in the first half we were poor: we didn’t keep the ball, we didn't put them under any pressure defensively which is what we did for a while in the second half. But defensively we were absolutely outstanding again and we had to be because Ampthill are a good side and they going to be tough to beat this year.”