Saturday, 3 May 2014

Rugby Union: Darlington Mowden Park 30 Ampthill 28 AET - late heartbreak for ...

Ampthill’s Elliot Clements-Hill


Ampthill RFC suffered extra-time heartache yesterday afternoon in the National Division Two play-off final, as they were beaten 30-28 by way of a last-gasp Darlington try.

The county side looked set for promotion but saw their three-point advantage overturned in the final seconds of the game, deep into the added time allowed by the referee.

These sides were paired together after coming second in their respective divisions, Ampthill in the National League Two South and Darlington in the northern equivalent. The prize was a place in National One – the third tier of English rugby and just one level below the Championship where Bedford Blues ply their trade.

It was a chance for back-to-back promotions for Ampthill after they captured the National League 3 Midlands last season, but they had to do it the hard way with yesterday’s final being played at Mowden Park’s home stadium, the 25,000 capacity Northern Echo arena.

Darlington were given home advantage due to gaining more points in their league.

“I can’t ask any more of this fantastic playing group,” said Mark Lavery, Ampthill’s Director of Rugby. “They were fantastic in both their application and effort, I’m incredibly proud to be associated with them.”

Head coach Paul Turner added: “We’re really proud of the players.

“And to be fair, we’re incredibly disappointed with the final score in a game that we won in every other sense.”

Ampthill trailed 19-10 at half time, with Joe Sproston scoring for the A’s, and Elliot Clements-Hill adding the conversion and a penalty. However, they won the second half convincingly following tries from Matt Burke and Clements-Hill, who added a conversion and a penalty as the scores were tied at 25-25 at the final whistle.

Clements-Hill kicked Ampthill three points clear from a penalty in extra time, which was how it remained until Darlington broke free and went over in what was the final move of the game.

“To lose in the final play when we were in control on their line, well, I don’t think anyone in the stadium expected that,” said Turner.

Ampthill will play in National Two North next season, a sideways move necessary to balance the two leagues geographically.

“We will come back stronger and we’ll be looking to get promoted,” said Lavery. “The boys now have four weeks off, thereafter Kevin Barrett will be working on conditioning key players in June, with pre-season training starting for the rest of the senior squad in July.”

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Rugby Union: Darlington Mowden Park 30 Ampthill 28 AET - late heartbreak for ...

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