First pre-season game for Hartpury RFC
Hartpury College RFC were taught a valuable lesson in attacking rugby as Ealing Trailfinders recorded a seven-try 43-21 victory in Gloucestershire.
The visitors, who ply their trade a league above Hartpury in National Division One and were the division’s top scorers and runners-up last season, began in typical blistering fashion and opened the scoring after four minutes through winger Sam Wardingley.
Hartpury responded bravely and applied pressure to their opponents, but a wayward pass was seized upon by Ealing’s Ben Ward, whose dash up the field set the platform for Wardingley to double his and the Trailfinders’ try tally for the day.
Almost immediately, a fine combination between Jack Hayes and Graham Speirs saw flanker Liam Wilkinson grab a score back for the hosts after the visitors had coughed up possession, with Luke Cozens converting.
But two tries in as many minutes from fullback Peter Hodgkinson and centre Andrew Henderson, in addition to a Tom Wheatcroft conversion, handed Ealing a 22-7 advantage at the break.
Hartpury started the second half brightly and veteran skipper Chris Fortey touched down at the back of a driving maul for an early try, converted superbly from the touchline by Craig Jackson.
There was to be no comeback, however, as talismanic fly half Ward’s impressive kicking game provided scores for Phil Chesters and Henderson in quick succession, Wheatcroft striking both sets of extras.The prolific Chesters, who registered 42 tries in England’s third tier last season, bagged his second try with 10 minutes remaining after being set free on the outside.
The home side had the last laugh when replacement Niall Crosley’s half-break and Geraint Davies’ well-timed pass released Alex Woodburn in the corner, with Jackson adding another excellent conversion, but there is plenty of work to be done ahead of the new campaign.
Hartpury College RFC would like to thank Ealing for a fantastic game and wish them well for the season ahead.
Hartpury’s next and final pre-season friendly is a visit to local rivals Cinderford on Saturday 25th August (3.00pm).
Final score: Hartpury College 21-43 Ealing Trailfinders
Tries: Wilkinson, Fortey, Woodburn
Conversions: Jackson (2), Cozens
Marsden; Speirs, Hayes, Jackson, Reynolds; Cozens, Stuart-Smith; Cano, Fortey (capt.), Thorne; Stooke, Casson; Wilkinson, Woodburn, Walker. Reps: Collins, Gibbons, Clarey, Graulich, Raven, Mills, Davies, Field, Rodwell, Boulton, Crosley
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