Bedfordshire bragging rights returned to Dillingham Park on Saturday, when Ampthill overcame Bedford Blues 20-10 in their latest Greene King IPA Championship encounter.
A crowd of more than 3,400 enjoyed the derby day action at Blues’ Goldington Road ground - but home fans were left bitterly disappointed.
Visiting supporters were delighted to see their side edge the sixth competitive meeting between the clubs, having been beaten 54-34 in the reverse fixture in October.
Speaking after the game, Ampthill’s Head Coach Paul Turner said: “We trained well in the week, and we reminded the boys of the 50-point defeat at Dillingham Park earlier in the season.
“It’s still a long time since then, and a lot has happened, but we felt that coming into today’s game if we did the right things and kept the ball that tactically we could beat them.
“There were a few scary moments at 13-10 up in the second half where we lost control of the game and ended up on our own line but survived that.
“It’s a major win for us – it’s one that’s been coming. We’ve had three or four games where we’ve left points on the table and it’s great to nick one at the end as we did. It’ll give the boys a lot of confidence. There were some great performances today – the pack was outstanding and to a man, we generally had control of the game!”
Blues Forwards Coach, Sean McCarthy said: “We looked rusty at times, not much impetus and we probably let ourselves and the fans down today with our performance.
“Hopefully, by playing week in, week out for a month or so then we should get some consistency in our performances. That week in, week out routine suits us because it gets more rugby on a consistent basis.”
Hooker Jack Hughes put Blues ahead after just five minutes, from a driving maul after a kick to the corner and lineout, scoring for the fourth successive game.
Ampthill responded with an almost identical try of their own as hooker Jack Dickinson scored his fourth try in consecutive games for 5-5.
And Ampthill were soon ahead when debutant scrum-half Harri Morgan picked up from the base of the scrum – dummied the Blues defender and wheeled away to dive in just left of the posts.
Russell Bennett’s relatively easy conversion hit the post.
Blues’ Hughes then brought his personal tally to five tries in four games when he dotted down again to be 10-10 at the break.
Bennett, who is the Championship’s top points scorer, slotted a penalty - the afternoon’s first successful kick from either side to put Ampthill 13-10 up.
Putting in one of their best defensive displays of the season, their decisive try came in the 75th minute. After sustained Blues’ pressure the visitors cleared their lines and from a penalty, Jack Bergin put Ampthill deep into the Blues 22.
Jac Arthur secured the line out, and following quick ball through Morgan and fellow debutant Josh Bragman, Ben Cambriani went over, leaving an easy conversion for substitute Bergin.
Blues are now sixth in the Championship after 12 games and Ampthill seventh after 14, both on 33 points.
This weekend Ampthill host Jersey Reds while Bedford Blues have a trip to Richmond.
Reds are up in third spot, on 39 points from 12 games, behind Doncaster Knights and Ealing Trailfinders, while Richmond are ninth.