Late penalty is costly for Amps

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Ampthill’s trying start to the season continued on Saturday when they lost at unbeaten Blackheath to a last-minute penalty.

Not many low-scoring games qualify as epics but the commitment and effort shown from both sides in this 16-15 result produced a truly great advert for National One rugby despite both sides making lots of mistakes.

Ampthill started well with good territory and possession but they failed to get over the whitewash.

On 15 minutes the deadlock was broken when a Blackheath lineout ball was scooped up by A’s Joe Bercis who ran in from 15 metres, wing James Pritchard adding the extras.

The hosts fought back and won a penalty but former A’s pivot Joe Tarrant missed.

In the 26th minute Amps prop Carl Garside received what most observers agreed was a harsh yellow card and the hosts took advantage, finally breaking A’s defence out wide on the left as Jake Lloyd scored an unconverted try.

The visitors were inspired to increase their efforts and got their reward when Blackheath were penalised and Pritchard extended the lead with a penalty on 36 minutes.

Moments later, Ampthill captain Aleki Lutui received a yellow card for a high tackle with Tarrant converting the resulting penalty to make it 10-8 at oranges.

The 14-man Amps began the second half by conceding an unconverted try to Mark Cooke as the hosts took the lead for the first time on 49 minutes.

Back to full strength, A’s regained the lead on 65 minutes after a penalty was kicked to the corner and a trademark catch and drive brought an unconverted try for Nigel Baker.

The visitors were in control in the latter stages with multiple phases in the Blackheath red zone but failed to convert.

Inevitably, the 78th minute saw Tarrant turn the ball over, move up field and kick the winning penalty.

This Saturday, A’s host to Esher.