Ampthill gained a four-try bonus point but could not stop Mowden Park from romping to a 45-29 victory at the Northern Echo Arena.
Amps started well, taking the lead with a seventh minute penalty from fly-half Joseph Tarrant, with the first 10 minutes or so being played exclusively in the home side’s half.
However, the following 20 minutes saw the visitors concede five tries as Mowden Park lock Rob Conquest (13 minutes), full-back James Barnard (15), flanker Simon Uzokwe (18 & 28) and lock Sebastien Ferreira (22) all scored fine tries which started with line breaks. Warren Seals converted four of the five scores.
Trailing 33-3 Ampthill showed great character and responded by going back to basics, and they struck back with a 34th minute try from centre Maxwell Wilkins. Tarrant added the extras.
From the kick off A’s were soon back deep in the hosts’ 22, and the resulting pressure saw the home side reduced to 14 players on 37 minutes.
The visitors kicked the penalty to the corner, won the lineout and took advantage of the extra man to drive over for a 38th minute try, touched down by flanker Kennet O’Neill wide on the right.
Trailing 33-15 at the break, Amps began the second period with their tails up, scoring two more converted tries.
The first saw O’Neill come up with the ball again on 42 minutes after a repeat of the lineout catch & drive of the first half, with Maisey converting from the touch line.
The second came on 54 minutes after multiple forward drives in the red zone created space for Tarrant to slip his cover; Maisey again adding the extras to reduce the deficit to 33-29.
However, on 68 minutes Mowden Park re-established a clear lead when Oliver Hodgson crashed over from close range, Seals adding the extras.
The restart saw Amps reduced to 14 players after the referee took issue with an aerial challenge.
The resulting penalty was kicked deep into A’s territory and the lineout catch & drive tactic resulted in the visitors going down to 13 players.
Mowden took advantage of their two-man advantage in the 77th minute when replacement Joe Craggs was driven over wide out for an unconverted try to seal the win.
Ampthill head coach Paul Turner said: “Despite putting Mowden Park under pressure for the first 10 minutes our defense was slack everywhere, with one-on-one tackling and general work rate unacceptable for the next 20.
“Our fightback came with two tries both sides of half-time, leaving just a four-point deficit and everything to play for.
“Unfortunately we lost our nerve, shape and discipline, resulting in two players leaving the field for disciplinary reasons during the last 10 minutes.
“Our error count was simply not good enough, especially playing away from home against a quality side. Joe Tarrant had a fine game along with Aleki Lutui and Kennet O’Neill.”