Ampthill 18 Nuneaton 15
Promotion-hopefuls Ampthill ground out an 18-15 victory over third-placed Nuneaton in National League Three Midlands as the two sides met for the first ever time at Dillingham Park on Saturday.
It was in the tight Amps won this encounter, scoring two tries on the day while the visitors had to rely on the boot for all of theirs.
Despite making several changes to their side after last week’s disappointing draw, A’s were put on the back foot from the off an pinned in their own half by some tactical kicking.
On almost their first foray into the visitors’ half, Amps were awarded a penalty for offside which Elliot Clements-Hill duly converted.
Multiple phases from the restart led to another penalty but Clements-Hill missed an easier chance than his last, ending his perfect nine-game penalty record.
With defences in control both sides looked to make yards through their kicking and the visitors levelled the scored with a penalty from a central position on 24 minutes.
A’s back then came to the fore and, after a catch-and-drive move had been held up over the line, the visitors were penalised four times in the red zone as A’s saved the referee the bother of running under the sticks by driving to the line where Anthony Begovic wriggled over for a try converted by Clements-Hill as A’s led 10-3 at the break.
Nuneaton had the benefit of slope and the wind for the second half and produced their best spell using pick-and-goes to drive deep into the home 22.
A crucial lineout win alleviated the pressure, but the visitors kicked a 43rd-minute penalty when A’s strayed offside. Nuneaton added penalties on 57 and 68 minutes, plus a drop-goal on 63 minutes with A’s already penalised as the visitors led 15-10.
Despite dominating both possession and territory Nuneaton didn’t look like scoring and with 10 minutes to go A’s redoubled their efforts.
Amps levelled the scored with nine minute to go when, following a series of phases around Nuneaton’s 10m, quickly recycled ball from a ruck allowed fly-half Daniel Lavery to break the line and he released centre Jonathan Raven whose perfectly-timed pass found replacement wing Dean Adamson the space for an unconverted try wide on the right.
Nuneaton got no change from their pick and goes and having pinched possession the visitors strayed offside and Clements-Hill converted the decisive penalty from 35m out on 75minutes.
Amps proceeded to snuff out any chance of a response from Nuneaton with determined defence. This weekend Ampthill travel to Longton.