Ampthill 22-17 Preston Grasshoppers
Hoppers made the long journey to high flying Ampthill and were unfortunate to only come away with a losing bonus point after giving the A’s a real scare.
Ampthill had run out comfortable winners on their first trip to Lightfoot Green earlier in the season and were probably expecting a similar result but they came up against a determined and resilient Hoppers side who took the game to them and really troubled the Bedfordshire outfit.
Speaking after the game Director of Rugby Gareth Dyer said; “That was a hugely committed performance and we played with real rugby intelligence, something we have been trying to install all season. We need to take confidence from this performance into the coming weeks as we have some big games in the next month or so. We have a good pack who will give anyone a contest, as shown today, and they’ve done well all season”
“Ampthill were clinical at times and that was the difference, we threw the kitchen sink at them and they have a very good defence but on another day we could have been awarded a try at the end and there was a question of yellow cards not given.”
“We need to bring the intensity from the last two games into our play week in week out and build on this for the rest of the season.”
Hoppers pack really took the game to Ampthill, led by Phil Mills and Ally Murray, who was playing in the back-row of a powerful looking side, the forwards were at their combative best with willing carriers across the team and a tenacity at the breakdown that gave the A’s problems from the first whistle.
They were rewarded with the first try when Andy Napier touched down a superb maul from the 22 with Hoppers showing patience and control as well as power; Lewis Allen converted well from near the touchline.
Ampthill looked to run from everywhere they levelled the game with a nice try from Joe Tarrant when Hoppers couldn’t find touch and took the lead when Viliami Ma’asi powered over following a line out which Hoppers had done well to initially stop.
However, Hoppers would take a 12-14 lead going into the break as Reece Tomlinson grounded another well worked line-out move.
Hoppers again started the half brightly and got under the skin of their host who were conceding a number of penalties but managed to take the lead when Maama Molitika powered out of his own 22 to set up Elliott Clements-Hill for a superb try. Allen levelled with a penalty but Ampthill gathered the restart and powered their way to the line before Tarrant crossed for his second.
Hoppers wouldn’t go down without a fight taking the game to Ampthill and looked to have got to the line, only to harshly have been judged to have knocked-on to the relief of the home support.
Hoppers take on local rivals Sedgley Park next week at Lightfoot Green in what promises to be an enthralling affair before two more sizable away journeys to Birmingham Solihull and then to Leicester Lions.