Ampthill delivered an error-strewn performance as they were beaten 25-19 by Coventry at the Butts Park Arena on Saturday.
Coventry’s backs were accurate and pacy, causing problems for an unusually sloppy A’s defence.
The hosts took the lead in the third minute as Amps conceded both a yellow card and a penalty goal, and Coventry showed their attacking intent on 11 minutes when full-back Carolan Ryan outflanked the defence and scored wide on the right. Fly-half Matthew Jones converted.
Ampthill’s response was swift, with a succession of forward drives eventually resulting in tighthead Matthew Collins crossing from close range. Elliot Clements-Hill added the extras.
Having narrowed the gap back to three points, Ampthill then allowed the hosts to score straight from the kick-off as Dominic Lespierre went over, with Jones converting.
On 31 minutes Jones converted another penalty goal after A’s yet again incurred the wrath of the officials at a breakdown, leaving the score 20-7 at half-time.
On 53 minutes Amps openside William Evans scored out wide after multiple phases in the red zone, but the conversion was missed.
Five minutes later, an Ampthill maul was cynically brought down 10m out. The referee yellow carded the offending prop but did not deem that a try scoring opportunity had been prevented.
With a prop in the bin, Coventry went down to 14 players but the absence of a suitable replacement resulted in uncontested scrums; negating some of the advantage of having an extra man.
On 72 minutes, a poor clearance kick from Joseph Tarrant was run back with venom by the hosts – now restored to 15 players – resulting in an unconverted try for replacement Daniel Rundle.
The 80th minute saw A’s blindside Darrel Dyer force his way over to the right of the posts after much forward pressure, with Clements-Hill adding the extras to make the final score 25-19.
A’s cannot now finish lower than fourth in the table, currently equal second with Hartpury and one point ahead of Blackheath in fourth. For the club’s first season at level 3 this is a phenomenal achievement.