Ampthill suffered late heartbreak as Rosslyn Park struck in time added on to clinch a 17-10 win at the newly laid artificial pitch in Roehampton.
Director Of rugby Mark Lavery said: “I can’t fault the effort and intensity but if we want to compete at this level we cannot show such poor decision making and execution at key moments.”
The hosts began well, but a seventh minute interception by Amps fly-half William Maisey saw him race 60m to touch down to the right of the posts, with wing Elliot Clements-Hill adding the extras.
Rosslyn Park responded with a successful penalty by scrum-half Thomas Whiteley on 13 minutes, and they went in front six minutes later as prop Lovejoy Chawatama forced his way over the line for a try converted by Whiteley.
Amps were given a boost as Park’s inside centre was shown a yellow card, but the remainder of the half saw the visitors squander a number of good chances as they went in at half-time trailing 10-7
The second half began with defences on top, but Clements-Hill kicked a penalty on 50 minutes to level the scores.
The visitors remained territorially dominant for the next 10 minutes, but with 15 minutes to go, a break from fly-half Brett Herron created pressure inside the Amps 22, resulting in a 5m lineout.
The resulting catch & drive saw A’s replacement prop Ralph Adams-Hale receive a 10 minute rest, and this was followed on 68 minutes by another yellow card, this time for centre Brendan Burke – reducing the visitors to 13 players.
Park threw everything at Amps for the next five minutes, but their backs were unable to penetrate while their forwards were matched in both tight and loose.
Adams-Hale’s return to the pitch meant Amps had survived for eight minutes with 13 men, but with the referee playing time added on, Ampthill were still a man down through no appropriate break in play.
The Amps defence won the ball back but the clearing kick failed to find touch which would have seen 15 against 15.
For the first time in the game Park were ruthless, with backs and forwards combining through multiple phases for lock Adam Frampton to eventually breach the line wide on the left in the sixth minute of time added on.