Park thoroughly deserved their win in this crucial clash to go third in the table, climbing above their opponents, but had to survive a hairy last few minutes as a result of not being able to turn a clear superiority into points. It was predominantly a dour but exciting midfield struggle as two superb defences tackled themselves to a standstill.

Ampthill had more possession in the opening moments but simply ran into a defensive brick wall before nearing the home 22.

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When Park launched their first real attack they made it tell. They set up a maul close to the line on the left, sucking in defenders, and winger Benji Marfo found space to go in on 8 minutes. Fly half Greg Lound stroked over a difficult conversion for 7-0.

Park always looked more likely to score but it was a superb interception by lock Adam Frampton that set up the move to draw a penalty on 18 minutes that allowed Lound to increase the lead to 10-0.

Frampton very nearly made another interception at full stretch but the ball bounced forward off his fingertips.

The home side had a near monopoly of the attacking play before the interval but some half chances went begging with errors creeping in as a score looked likely, though much credit for that must accrue to some fine defensive work by the visitors.

A 10-0 lead at the interval looked a poor reward for Park’s dominance, and it looked even smaller when Amps started the second half with full back James Pritchard slotting over a penalty for 10-3.

Although Ampthill were increasingly coming into the game, what chances there were fell to Park. A good move ended with a handling error just as a score looked ‘on’. A superb move up the left was halted by a forward pass. A terrific break up the left by winger Nev Edwards ended when he lost control of the ball.

Park gained a penalty on the left, deep into Amps territory. Surprisingly instead of kicking to the corner to set up the catch-and-drive that has served his side so well recently, Lound was asked to kick for goal only for his effort to graze the outside of the far post.

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Ampthill were now having a last throw and putting pressure on the home defence, but again it was a Park attack that drew a yellow card to reduce the visitors to 14.

The visitors dealt with the situation very well with superb ball retention and even won a penalty in front of the posts with four minutes to go. Surprisingly they kicked for three points rather than scrummage and go for the win. Centre Mickey Wilson added the points and Amps set up another extended period of possession as the clock ran down. But they could get nowhere against Park’s superbly drilled defence and when the inevitable error came, so did the final whistle.

Although Park could, and probably should, have won by more they can take great strength from the fact that a top team that ran up 40 points against Darlington the previous week was unable to set up a realistic chance to cross their line.

Next Saturday Park visit Cambridge, which has rarely been a happy hunting ground for them in the past. Cambridge are currently lying eighth in the league, but are in a rich vein of form at the moment having won away at Darlington last week by 22-3. Park are currently just four points behind the leaders and must look for a win.