Ampthill emerged as winners, in this Zoo Shield fixture, as they exposed a weak midfield Cinderford defence to score four tries to two. An imperious kicking performance by Cinderford fly half James Moffat always kept the United in the hunt together with scrum half Alex Frame and a brave performance by the young United forwards, of which captain Will Hodgetts was the eldest at only 22 years of age. Weak midfield tackling by the United on a kick chase allowed Ampthill to set up a great scoring position and their effective Tongan second row crashed over. The try was converted but Moffat kicked a fine penalty to reduce arrears. The energetic United forwards matched their bigger and more experienced opponents but must have been dismayed to watch an inexplicable dropped pass in the centre which was not picked up and Ampthill pounced to score under the posts for a second converted try. Moffat kicked a second penalty and eventually the United scored a try when right wing Robson Skipsey forced his way over in the corner. Moffat’s only miss came from the attempted conversion. Just before half time Ampthill exposed the fragile United midfield for a third time as direct running and excellent handling saw the hosts score under the posts. The conversion was a formality and they led 24-11 at half time.

Half Time: 24-11

Moffat kicked a huge third penalty, from halfway, to reduce arrears again but Ampthill strode through a porous United centre yet again to score a fourth try although this time unconverted. The United refused to lie down and captain Hodgetts added a try as a reward for his forwards effort and Moffat duly converted. Moffat’s fourth penalty left the United just five points behind, with ten minutes remaining, and only a combination of naïve United game management and strong and composed Ampthill defence denied them a levelling or potentially match winning score.

Full Time: 29-24

Cinderford United: Ollie Whiting, Robson Skipsey, James Butler, Alex Jackson, Jack O’Connell, James Moffat, Alex Frame, Dino Dallavalle, Sam Baker, Daniel Keat, Dale Lemon, Sam Morse, Aaron Ryan, Matt Allcock, Will Hodgetts (Capt). Replacements: (all used on rotation) Ashley Macey, Jake Drinkwater, Reece Lane, Tom Reynolds.

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