Blackheath down Amps in closely fought clash

Ampthill battled hard but could not prevent the defeat. Picture (c) June Essex
Ampthill battled hard but could not prevent the defeat. Picture (c) June Essex

Ampthill went down 15-10 to Blackheath in a fiercely competitive National 2 encounter at Dillingham Park on Saturday.

Dillingham took the lead on eight minutes after the hosts were penalised twice in quick succession; open side flanker David Allen crashed over to the right of the posts, and the try was converted by fly-half Frederick Gabbitass.

On 20 minutes winger Jake Lloyd scored an unconverted try wide on the right after a series of forward phases by the visitors stretched the Amps defence.

A’s responded by securing the kick-off and, for the first time in the game, controlling the ball and building pressure resulting in a 23rd minute breakdown penalty against the visitors. Wing Elliot Clements-Hill’s sweetly struck goal was successful from 40m.

The remainder of the half saw both sides spurn scoring opportunities through lack of accuracy, and half-time arrived with the scoreboard reading 12-3 to Park and much to do for both sets of coaches.

The hosts began the second half in the ascendancy, dominating territory and possession, leading to a 48th minute try from flanker Brian Tuilagi who finished a fine move.

From the left hand touchline, Clements-Hill’s conversion sailed between the posts to close the deficit to just three points.

Blackheath responded to more Ampthill indiscipline with another catch and drive inside the hosts’ 22, leading to a 10 minute sinbin for Amps lock Karl Braband.

The 77th minute saw Ampthill penalised while defending yet another maul, and Gabbitass made no mistake with the penalty goal to extend the visitors lead.

The restart was, strangely, fumbled into touch giving A’s an attacking lineout. A series of phases followed but Blackheath’s defence held firm until the final whistle blew to condemn Amps to defeat.

Ampthill director of rugby Mark Lavery said: “At this level we can’t afford the kind of start we had today; for 60 minutes we matched Blackheath but the first quarter gave them too big a head start.

“The last time we were beaten at home was two years ago in National 2 South, so I’d like to think it’ll be another two years before we lose again.”