Hartpury extend unbeaten run with comfortable win
Ian Clark bagged a hat trick of tries as a youthful Hartpury College side continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 62-6 victory over a spirited Barking.
Ironically, it was the winless visitors who opened the scoring after a strong showing in the opening exchanges when Craig Ratford slotted a penalty from distance.
But that was as good as it got for the troubled East End outfit as Hartpury, captained by 19-year-old lock Elliott Stooke, seized control of the contest.
Hooker Callum O’Connell touched down at the back of a driving maul on seven minutes as his pack almost sprinted over the line, converted by Billy Burns.
Winger Clark grabbed the first of his treble 10 minutes later after the ball was swung wide from another maul, with Olly Forrest swiftly halving Barking’s deficit courtesy of a second penalty.
O’Connell then scored a mirror image of his first, before Harry Casson secured the four-try bonus point on 31 minutes after a bulldozing dash up the left wing, with Burns adding the extras once again.
Clark’s second was arguably the score of the match as a lightning counter-attack from a turnover, instigated by a brilliant penetrating run from Alex Woodburn, released the winger in the corner as Burns converted for a 31-6 Hartpury lead at the interval.
Brandon Walker, who, at 23, was one of the elder statesmen of a team with an average age of 22, added a sixth try nine minutes after the restart after yet another catch-and-drive.
Hartpury continued to attack at will but lacked the same accuracy and precision that put Bournemouth to the sword the previous week, and they had to wait until the 58th minute for their next score.
After the forwards had battered and bludgeoned their way through several phases, number eight Tom Ailes wriggled underneath the fringe defence to ground the ball at full stretch.
Replacement Sam Raven crashed over in the shadow of the posts three minutes later following a fine offload from Alex Dancer, with the unfamiliar figure of Clark claiming the extra two after Brad Field had replaced Burns.
Clark’s next points came through far more conventional means as a trademark broken field run from halfway saw the Gloucester Academy flier glide in for his third try, which he improved himself.
Jack Hayes’ searing burst from the kickoff, which left five defenders trailing in his wake as he raced home from 60 metres, rounded off a devastating eight-minute spell in which four tries were scored, with Clark converting for the game’s final points.
Hartpury College would like to thank Barking for an excellent match and look forward to the return fixture in January.
Hartpury’s next match is away at newly promoted Canterbury on Saturday 13th October.
Final score: Hartpury College 62-6 Barking
Tries: Clark (3), O’Connell (2), Casson, Walker, Ailes, Raven, Hayes
Conversions: Burns (3), Clark (3)
Marsden; Hayes, Jackson, Rodwell, Clark; Burns, Stuart-Smith; Cano, O’Connell, Crompton; Stooke (capt.), Casson; Walker, Woodburn, Ailes. Reps: Grinsell (Ailes 59), Gibbons (Crompton 59), Raven (Woodburn 51), Field (Burns 52), Dancer (Jackson 46).
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