A’s hold on despite Hartpury fightback

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A dominant first half display from Ampthill proved enough to overcome a spirited Hartpury College fightback as they eventually ran out victorious by 24 points to 18.

The Amps squad saw Kennet O’Neill start at lock while Russel Weir, on loan from London Scottish, made his debut on the bench at Dillingham Park.

Ampthill dominated the first half and, although the second period saw Hartpury change personnel and tactics to turn the tables, Amps’ superior goal kicking turned out to be crucial.

For once Ampthill came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders, taking advantage of an early penalty as centre William Goodge broke from a maul and crashed over wide on the right in the third minute; wing Elliot Clements-Hill adding a fine conversion.

Just five minutes later, blindside Darrel Dyer won a footrace to touch down after Hartpury had knocked on a high kick which was fly-hacked twice by scrum-half Gavin Williams. This time Clements-Hill added the extras from wide out on the opposite left.

The visitors hit back with a 27th minute penalty goal from full-back Gareth Thompson, but straight from the kick-off a series of phases resulted in Amps captain Aleki Lutui driving over the line from close range. Clements-Hill struck his third conversion for a 24-3 half-time lead.

Hartpury began to establish field position in the second half, which led to a 56th minute unconverted try wide on the left from scrum-half Harry Cochrane.

The 65th minute saw the visitors score another unconverted try through their standout player Dan Thomas, who was becoming more and more influential.

The home side went down to 14 players for a team yellow card in the 75th minute just as Hartpury scored their third unconverted try through hooker James Stephenson, but Amps held on for the win.

Director of rugby Mark Lavery said: “An emotional day with a fine first half performance. Head coach Paul Turner has taken Ampthill, quite literally, to another level.

“He missed the game today as his father passed away late last night; our thoughts and condolences are with Paul and family.”