As the first blanket of snow of the winter fell over the Hertfordshire hills overnight parents awoke to a scene reminiscent of a winter wonderland, and awaited the inevitable email to confirm that conditions were not suitable for rugby so enjoy a lie in and reading the Sunday papers by the fire. The wait was anxious. Eventually at around 8.30am the message came through...Game ON!
Upon arrival at Ampthill the pitches were covered in snow, but the ground underneath was still fairly soft, taking a stud and therefore other than the freezing conditions and cold hands, there was no reason not to play.
The matches were never going to be classics and for the B team match there was a lot of hard, often ferocious, challenges, but in the conditions any mistakes were punished by the opposition leading to a score line that did not truly reflect the balance of play.
The home side broke clear early doors to take the lead and from then on Camelot were up against it. Jack stole the ball well in a maul and set off towards the try line, but was tackled to the ground just short and then a flying last ditch tackle from Ollie stopped the hosts from doubling the lead.
Things started to become a bit fractious when Ollie was on the receiving end of an off the ball ruckus, but it was the home side that stayed focus and doubled the lead with a quick breakout through the snow.
A Hemel attack that could have seen them back in the game was stopped and then immediately turned into 0-3 when a big kick out was smothered by a Camelot defender, but somehow the ball slipped loose under Ampthill pressure and the lead was increased to 3-0 before the break.
Camelot started the livelier in the second-half and deservedly scored when Ben broke from defence, got taken to ground, lobbing the ball out with a basketball style pass to George who didn't think twice about tucking the ball under his arm and charging past a couple of half-hearted challenges on his way to scoring.
Unfortunately a comeback looked unlikely when Ampthill immediately restored their three try lead with a quick and easy break out wide. Camelot remained resolute and it was George again getting on the scoresheet when he picked up a loose ball in the ruck and set off on what is becoming a now trademark run to the line to pull the score back to 2-4.
Camelot continued to push to get back into the game, but an interception during one attack saw the home side break from their own 5 metre line to score, and that soon became 6-2 when the opposition winger dived into a gap to score.
By now heads did start to drop a little and Ampthill scored with the final move of the game, despite Byron hanging on around the forwards head, the ball was downed and the victory confirmed.
FT: Ampthill 7-2 Camelot
"Is it or isn't it", was the big question on everyone's lips as we awoke on a snow covered Sunday morning. After a pitch inspection by the Ampthill coaches we make the 45 minute journey and surprisingly the pitch (under the snow) easily takes a stud.
This was supposed to be a tri-fixture with the third team being Buckingham. Their coaches elected not to risk the conditions although one or two of their players "didn't get the memo"!
With Seb as captain Game 1 for our "A" team started well with strong mauling leading to regular Camelot turnovers. Soon our good work leads to the opening score with Dan finishing strongly down the right wing, 1-0. This was quickly followed by a second from Thomas showing strength and good handoff skills. Our dominance in the first half continues with Caolan finishing off Fred's good work to run in a third. 3-0 at half time against a team that in recent years has quite comfortably beaten us. After some work on cold hands and fingers the second half gets underway. Immediately we're on the attack with Caolan and Julias combining well to set up a marauding Alfie who is only denied by a last ditch tackle in the corner. We're totally dominating this game with Ampthill struggling to get out of their own half. Our aggressive defence, right up to the opposition try line, pays dividends as Caolan dives on a lose ball for our 4th of the game. There's a good rhythm about our play in obviously difficult handling conditions with a lot of the good work culminating in Caolan and Dan forcing their way down the right wing. This proves highly effective as Dan runs in three tries in the last 5 minutes to end the match 7-0 to Camelot.
Game 2 sees a change in line-up for Ampthill who are much harder to break down this time. Opposition injuries dominate the first half which ends in stalemate at 0-0. In the second half George opens the scoring for Camelot after some good work by Seb. More injuries break any rhythm we have in the second half, in fact Ampthill level the scores with just a couple of minutes to go. In the end though it's a Camelot/Buckingham joint victory as one io our guest players scores in the corner with the last play of the match. Camelot 2 Ampthill 1. George and a Buckingham guest being the try scores.