Ampthill on the road to Esher

Ampthill's Joe Tarrant
Ampthill's Joe Tarrant

Ampthill travel to former Championship side Esher this weekend for round 23 in a National One season that sees them sit third in the division with three quarters of their games played.

At the end of October, Ampthill beat Esher 29-24 at Dillingham Park, but since then the Surrey club have struggled for results and presently sit 10 points above the drop zone with eight matches remaining.

Direct of rugby Mark Lavery said: “This fixture will be far from straightforward. They (Esher) are down there fighting for their lives, they’re going to make life extremely difficult for us.”

The Ampthill pack includes three former Tongan internationals; Aleki Lutui [hooker], Paino Hehea [lock] and Maama Molitika [Number 8], while a fourth Tongan, Loti Molitika, starts on the blindside [flanker].

Former Exeter Chiefs prop Brett Sturgess in the front row [loosehead] with Matt Collins [tighthead], Karl Braband [second row] and duel-registered Saints wing forward Will Allman as flanker [openside].

“That packs got a real Ampthill-feel to it,” continued Lavery, and with U20 Welsh International Sid Blackmore, England-Students Hooker Matt Beesley, and former Bedford Blue Ben Wilkinson on the bench; the pack has strength and depth.

Former England Sevens Skipper Kev Barrett [scrum half] is reunited with Joe Tarrant [fly half], Will Goodge [12] and Oris Nawakaliva [13] start in the centre, Sam Baker [left] and Karim Lynch [right] are on either wing with Steff Jones at full back. Alex Mitchell [scrum half] is available from the bench having played for England U20 last weekend against France, with Mickey Wilson offering further backs cover.

Amps go into the game on the back of a defeat to runaway leaders Hartpury College last week as Lavery added: “With 58 minutes played we were 22-15 behind and when you look at the tape, as we have, let’s just say the officiating in the breakdown that lead to Matt Beesley’s yellow card is, well, let’s just say we’re disappointed.

“We lacked composure. When you keep giving the ball back to a professional outfit such as Hartpury; well, we got what we deserved. We’re extremely disappointed with our application. We expect more.

“That said, we’ve had a good response from the boys this week in training; this game is the last in a run of seven for us on the bounce – we need to reset and start again, and go into our rest weekend on the back of a win.”

Kick off at Molesey Road is at 3pm.