Hartpury RFC are in excellent form at the moment and continued their purple patch by taking to task a resolute, and at times, particularly well drilled Blaydon RFC.
With Blaydon having won a solitary game out of the five played in 2015/16 season and none in the last four, Hartpury had every right to go into this game feeling particularly confident, but this turned out to be one of the tightest game of Hartpury’s winning performances this season.
Blaydon started brightly and put pressure on in almost every area of the game, winning turnover at the breakdown and playing some decent attacking phases with the ball in hand, but in the loose, it was Hartpury who had the measure of play and were extremely unlucky not to open the points scoring with a try as a nervy start led to a knock on just feet from the Blaydon whitewash.
Instead it was down to leading points scorer Gareth Thompson to get things underway from a penalty in the 9th minute which found its mark and seemed to settle Hartpury as they built ever stronger phases of play and again came close to dotting down but were held up on this occasion. Not to be deterred, Hartpury doubled their efforts and from the scrum, sent the ball cross-field at pace and into the arms of James Stephenson who crashed across in the corner on 16 minutes.
A further first half try from George Boulton behind the posts on 35 minutes and conversion from Thompson made it look like business as usual for the Hartpury boys as they set about building their lead to a useful 12 point gap but Blaydon struck back instantaneously as David Nelson carved open the Hartpury defence for a 30 metre chase to the try line and left both Creed and Boulton in his wake. Extras were missed and that called in halftime with a slightly uncomfortable score line of 8-15.
Blaydon came out purposefully in the second half and put down the marker with a try on 42 minutes from Jason Smithson who was rumbled over the line by a dominant Blaydon maul, Connon securing the conversion bought everything dead level. In a role reversal of the end of the first half, it was Hartpury who responded immediately through a Thompson penalty and then a scything George Boulton run opened up a big enough gap to offload to Elliot Creed who much like Nelson in the first half, put in a thirty metre sprint to put the ball down behind the posts.
Five minutes later Blaydon struck back through Connon and Smithson, scoring another catch and drive try with successful conversion. Following this swift exchange of points, there was then 25 minutes of very physical play with neither side wanting to give an inch and with the score at 22-25, it was a particularly tense phase of the game with both sides knowing that any mistake could cost them the win, and in the end it was a Blaydon mistake that sealed their fate. A penalty on 76 minutes was put away by Thompson and secured Hartpury’s fourth victory on the bounce.
Hartpury: Thompson, Little, Leonard, Boulton, Creed, Perry, Shaw, Flook, Taylor, Thompson, Macdonald, Pape, Polledri, Stephenson, Safe Subs: Dancer, Brockett
Blaydon: Adams, Cooney, Bailey, Baggett, Wilson, Connon, Horsfall, White, Guignouard, Davison, Waermouth, Archibald, Laughlin, Smithson, Jones.
Referee: Jamie Leahy
FT: Blaydon RFC 22-28 Hartpury RFC