First win of the year for Hartpury

By Ross Gazette sports reporter   |   Sport reporter   |
Thursday 28th February 2019 9:00 am
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After many long weeks, Hartpury finally chalked up their first win since September in this entertaining performance against their nearest rivals, Richmond, with a final score of 36-12.

Hartpury were building on an encouraging performance the previous week, at Coventry, and the calm, clear and dry conditions at the Gillman’s Ground were tailor-made for the personnel at their disposal.

The back division was largely the same as in the previous game, with the addition of experienced on-loan Bristol centre, Jack Tovey.

Gloucester’s Gareth Denman made his debut for the club at tight head, while Jake Heenan (Bristol) also made his bow, in the back row.

Given the pressurised nature of the occasion – defeat would have made survival unlikely – Hartpury started the game very well and a dominant opening 35 minutes saw them open up a good lead, based on three well-worked tries.

Mat Protheroe served a large part of his rugby apprenticeship at Hartpury and it was great to see him back and playing in his normal swash-buckling style.

He quickly made an impact, a lightning burst out of his own half making the Richmond defence appear leaden-footed in comparison.

One player on the same wavelength – and with the pace to participate – was young centre, Charlie Powell, who still had plenty do when receiving Protheroe’s floated pass.

However, he had the step to throw off Richmond winger, Marcus Webber, followed by the pace to shred the cover defence, before scoring in the corner to give Hartpury a 6th minute lead.

Richmond pushed back, to the extent that Hartpury lost winger Ben Foley to a yellow card – for slowing the ball down – in the 14th minute, but Hartpury still looked the more dangerous – often attacking from deep.

With Foley restored, Hartpury were able to extend their lead shortly before the half hour.

The forwards drove well all night and were pressing toward the line, wide on the right hand side. The ball was transferred infield and Foley was on hand to find space to sneak through the fringe defence. Lloyd Evans landed the extras to give Hartpury a 12-point advantage.

Four minutes later, Foley was heavily involved again. He made a powerful run down his wing (pictured) before feeding the ball inside. Fly-half, Evans, in turn, found the supporting Akapusi Qera and it seemed likely that the Fijian flanker would pick up his second score for the club.

He was finally pulled down about two metres short, but the ball was quickly recycled for Evans add the third try, close to the posts.

At 19-0, Hartpury were already looking for the bonus point, before half time.

However, the minutes either side of the break have frequently been a dangerous time for the Red & Blacks and this game was to be no exception.

An Evans penalty to touch appeared to be clearly knocked on by a Richmond fielder but, with nothing coming from the officials, play continued.


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