Ampthill’s pack won this game in the first half with efficient catch and driving from the line out. Dale opened the scoring with a superb break from Huw Morgan which saw him then beat the cover for an unconverted try. Dale’s mistakes led to ample Ampthill possession and they took their chances well. Villi Ma-asi scored twice behind his pack with Elliot Clements-Hill converting the first.
Poor handling from Dale led to an attacking 5 metre scrum for the visitors and the home crowd expected the A’s to push over. The Green Machine did not retreat but a quick ball allowed Clements-Hill to squeeze in at the corner. He failed with the extras.
Another mistake gifted the ball to Clements-Hill who ran from half way to touch down under the posts. He stretched the lead to 5-24 from the tee.
Dale fought back well in the second half but good pressure from the Ampthill forwards and excellent handling from their backs gave Clements-Hill another score wide right. Again the wind spoilt his attempt to convert.
Wharfedale’s pack got stronger as the game went on and were rewarded with a catch and drive try of their own; Chris Howick touching down and with Jamie Guy slotting an excellent kick from wide left it meant that at least Dale won the second half!
Dale continue to dazzle one week only to perform badly the next. There were 11 handling errors against Ampthill. The line out which had purred for the last few games performed abysmally, reaching 50% completion. If we add the six lost line outs to the handling errors it is barely credible that Dale competed in the game at all.
There is an abundance of promise at the Avenue and this present incarnation of the Green Machine has been highly praised. They also need to be criticised when the overall effect is confusion and signs of nervy play on the pitch.
The supporters want to see expansive attractive rugby but not careless ambition. There is also a skill level which demands higher completion rates in passing and handling.
The crowd did get behind the Green Machine and the players know that they let the faithful down. There needs to be faith in the squad; there needs to be faith in the relationship between the supporters, the players and the coaching staff.
Commenting on the performance against Ampthill Tom McGee said that it was a “Very disappointing result and performance. We knew exactly what Ampthill would bring with their heavy physical forwards and direct game. The 1st 15 minutes looked promising, our shape and pass accuracy was good and we looked threatening with the ball, exposing Ampthill on edges and shortsides. However we were the architects of our own downfall as the half progressed. It was clear to see what their strengths were in the conditions with the driving maul and good on the counter. We let them off the hook and into our 22 with unforced errors. Three of Ampthill’s 1st half tries were directly from us coughing the ball up which surprised me as it’s not been a factor this season.Losing James Doherty during the week was a blow as he brings intensity, energy and direction to our play, then when Huw Morgan went off with a head injury we completely lost our shape and direction which is something we need to look at. The biggest challenge for us is developing that tough uncompromising consistent mental edge. We’ve seen our ability to create, defend tough, control periods, and compete with top teams. Backing it up every session, every week takes strong drive, resilience and perseverance, something we’ll keep working hard on on the training paddock and with the players individually to improve.”
Paul Turner, Ampthill’s coach, stated that “our forwards won the game for us in the first half”. He also praised Wharfedale for the way they tried to get back into the game.
Chris Howick, despite his yellow card, at the end, for a late tackle, was superb throughout and has brought a strong cutting edge to the Green Machine. He never stopped tackling and his ball carrying was admired by the away support. There were other good performances; but the mistakes must be cut down.
Wharfedale Altham (Cano 59), Larkin (Stockdale 49), Wade (Steel 24, Wade 66), Mason, Hedgley, Burridge, Howick, Baldwin; Skelton, Guy; Tay, Morgan (Bullough 39), Hudson, Sertima, Labasse.
Replacement not used Myers