The last time Hartpury and Ampthill met was the day that sealed Hartpury’s promotion to National league one. Having defeated their opposition in both home and away games in National two, Hartpury made good on their past form and put Ampthill to the sword in National one with a first half performance that proved too strong in every area.
In the first half, Hartpury ran in tries from backs Gareth Thompson and Ben Vellacott, while Lithuanian winger Jonas Milkacius had a field day scoring three tries in twenty minutes, which left the opposition reeling from an attacking performance in the loose which wouldn’t look out of place another league higher.
Thompson was first to cross the wash with a cracking bit of loose play following an early Ampthill penalty, but has been not as consistent with the boot as he has been with his ability to find the line over the last couple of games, and pushed the ball wide of the mark. Not helped by fairly blustery wind in places, it was a fairly miserable day for any steady kicking conditions.
Mikalcius who scored his second hat-trick of the season, showed the same dominating turn of pace and physicality that secured three tries at the 0-46 drubbing of Henley Hawks a few weeks previously. Supported by the systematic but brilliantly consistent shipping from Vellacott and Thompson, Mikalcius was always in position to pick up the wide ball and outrun the beleaguered Ampthill defence. Even when posed with more stiff opposition from the Ampthill defenders, the massive fend provided by his backrow stature meant that he was able to make enough space to break the line and create more havoc for the stretched opposition defence.
Vellacott provided a sharp and sniping edge to the half-backs and his vision from a quick tap and go penalty 10 metres from the Ampthill line, gave him just enough space to power through the poorly arranged defence and dot down for the third try of the half. Two further tries from Mikalcius had essentially sewn up the bonus point win before half-time and it was just down to the second half to prove what the final margin would be.
To their credit Ampthill came out fighting in the second half, but despite a rejuvenated performance and Hartpury losing some of the shape they had in the first forty, the defence which has kept the college outfit in such fine form on the points difference sheet this season, shone through again.
The home sides set-piece was pretty much flawless and at the lineout Hartpury stole the ball on a number of occasions, providing decent territory and ensuring that Ampthill never really posed too much of an attacking problem. There was the odd opportunity missed, but based on the performance as a whole, you’d really be picking at the minority of offences that made the difference between an emphatic victory and what may have otherwise been another zero points trouncing of a league one side.
Ampthill did secure a converted try of their own in tricky conditions which was grounded by Max Wilkins on 51 minutes but strong actions across the board and a concerted effort from the Hartpury forwards provided the defensive spread necessary to stop any further opportunities in what was a fairly torrid stop-start affair in the second half, marred by handling errors from both sides.
The home side’s forwards did manage to make a try scorer out of prop Wayne Thompson, who was driven over in the corner on 72 minutes and sealed the game with a similar point’s difference that started the second half.
With Blackheath and Esher falling to their opponents at the weekend, Hartpury return to the top of National 1
Tries: Thompson, Vellacott, Mikalcius(3), Thompson
Ampthill and District RUFC:
Ref: Llyr ApGeraint-Roberts