Ampthill held off a spirited second half fightback from Blaydon to register a nerve-jangling 19-12 victory.
Ampthill’s outstanding three-try first period performance left the score 19-0 in their favour at half-time, but Blaydon turned the tables in the second period, resulting in a tense last quarter of an hour.
Ampthill started the game strongly, and on six minutes loosehead Ralph Adams-Hale crossed the whitewash after sustained pressure inside Blaydon’s 22, with centre William Maisey adding the extras.
On 32 minutes Darrell Dyer broke clear in midfield on the hosts’ 10m line and galloped 40m to touch down to the right of the posts, with Maisey again converting.
Three minutes later, lock Benjamin Gulliver stole another home lineout, this time near his own 22; he fed scrum-half Gavin Williams who scored an unconverted try at the other end of the pitch.
Half-time saw Amps leading 19-0, and fancying their chances given the benefit of the elements for the second period.
As the rain began to fall, the home side came out with a different view and their raised level saw a complete change in fortune, with the visitors on the back foot for much of the half.
On 45 minutes Blaydon scored a try through Jason Smithson, converted by flyhalf Andrew Baggett, after concerted pressure had forced errors from Amps.
In the 65th minute the hosts were camped in A’s 22 wide on the right when the ball was moved through the hands to the left. The visitors seemed to have both numbers and organisation, but missed tackles saw the hosts cross wide on the left for an unconverted try by wing Fraser Wilson.
The remaining quarter of an hour had the Ampthill travelling support biting their finger nails as wave after wave of home attacks were repelled, until the tension was relieved by the final whistle.
Director of rugby Mark Lavery said “An accurate and precise first half was followed by an inaccurate and error strewn second – all credit to Blaydon RFC for a comeback that very nearly resulted in a long and quiet coach journey home.
“As for man of the match, Burke, Collins and Hehea were all outstanding.”