Hartpury College 66 – Gosforth Academy 14
Hartpury’s college rugby squad completed an unbeaten season in style by claiming their eighth AASE Championship title at the expense of Newcastle’s Gosforth Academy.
Having missed out last year, Hartpury were in no mood to let another national title slip through their fingers. Playing at Harlequins’ Allianz Park, they emphatically saw off the challenge of the Northern Group winners, 66-14.
Gosforth came into the final with the reputation of playing a fast, off-loading style of rugby but, despite their best efforts, they found it difficult to live with the power, pace and precision of a fired-up Hartpury outfit.
Hartpury were simply too strong in all areas of the game, mixing some punishing forward drives with incisive back play. On the occasions when Gosforth did have possession, they found it difficult to create any pressure in the face of ferocious Hartpury defence.
Tries came at regular intervals throughout the game and six in the first half, without reply, effectively had the title wrapped up by the half time interval.
Jake Morris was over for the first of his brace with seven minutes showing, while lock forward Olly Adkins went one better by starting on his hat-trick five minutes later. All of his tries came at the heart of powerful forward drives.
Morris’s centre partner, Jack Reeves, created a second for Morris before he went in for a score of his own after knifing through the Gosforth defence.
Before that, Joe Howard had stretched out to finish off another forward effort. Hartpury wrapped up the first half when skipper, Ewan Fenley, broke from the base of an attacking scrum for a good individual try.
As if this wasn’t enough, outside half Joe Winfield had an outstanding evening with the boot, landing six out of seven conversions in total. His only miss being a whisker wide from the touchline.
Hartpury emptied the bench in the second half but it didn’t seem to make much difference as they stayed on the front foot for most of the remaining 35 minutes. Adkins added two more to his personal tally, before replacement scrum-half James Clancy fed winger Louis Rees-Zammitt in space.
The final score came in the last action of the match with replacement hooker Bertie Stretch touching down at the back of a lineout drive. Josh Phipps, on at 10 for Winfield, kicked his second conversion before the celebrations started.
Gosforth did pick up two tries of their own as some reward for their evening of toil, the second of which was a cracker from centre Morgan Passman, but this was a day on which there was only ever going to be one outcome.
Hartpury College: Jack Curtis, Calum Barnett, Jacob Morris, Jack Reeves, Louis Rees-Zammitt, Joe Winfield, Ewan Fenley; Shay O’Malley, Morgan Nelson, Ethan Seville, Olly Adkins, Joe Howard, Bailey Watts, Dec Fissenden, JJ Tonks. Replacements (all used): Rowan Mullis, Bertie Stretch, Alex Hunt, Sonny Facey, Vince Everitt, James Clancy, Josh Phipps, Isaac Marsh.
Tries: Morris (2), Adkins (3), Hoard, Reeves, Fenley, Rees-Zammitt, Stretch.
Conversions: Winfield (6), Phipps (2).