Mikey Box Kick

Hartpury RFC vs Nottingham - 3 - 0

Mikey Box Kick

Nottingham 00 Hartpury 03

Report: Mike Austin nails chance for ‘bizarre’ Hartpury win at Lady Bay


by Rob Wildman, at Lady Bay Sports Ground

Bizarre. That was one way of describing how Hartpury squeezed to a fifth win from six games this year.

“I don’t know what to say,” mused coach Mark Cornwell after watching a full-bloodied encounter settled by a Mike Austin penalty goal in the 61st minute.

“It’s bizarre,” said a puzzled Cornwell. “I’ve never been involved in a match where you gain more league points than you actually score in a match.

“People are going to ask was it muddy? No, it was bone dry. The conditions were good for running rugby.

“The wind did shift about but I’m just glad we came out on the right side of it.”

No one would have forecasted such a low-scoring match beforehand, especially considering both teams have posted 50 or more tries in Championship games this season at nearly four a game.

Both teams were hit by injuries and the on-going shuffling of players from Premiership allies due to next Friday’s Cup clash between Gloucester and Leicester.

Overall, Hartpury can claim the morale high ground for the way they bossed the final quarter after Austin had landed the penalty from around 25 metres out to the left of the posts.

Austin might have had a couple more chances for kicks at goal only for captain Will Crane to opt for line-out calls in an attempt to put his team more than a converted try ahead.

That ploy ultimately failed but it also soaked up time and kept Nottingham rooted in their own 22 despite increasingly desperate attempts to break out.

Nottingham have built a reputation for playing attack-minded rugby on their home patch at Lady Bay.

However, a high penalty count and a stuttering start derailed them. They lost powerful lock Come Joussain due to a thigh injury in the ninth minute while wing David Williams was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle.

Nottingham had the best of the opening 30 minutes and fly half Matt Arden, who has been a big plus since his arrival from Northampton, struck an upright from a penalty attempt in the 28th minute. Hartpury had one sustained assault and were held up just short in their best attack.

Apart from those incidents, the first half was honest toil and not a lot else, both teams wanting to over test their kicking strategies on a windy night.

Hartpury took command from the start of the second half powered along by a sturdier pack and the all-round skills of halfbacks Austin and Morgan Adderly-Jones.

Adderly-Jones, moved to No 10 because of injury to Harry Bazalgette in last week’s win over Cambridge, grew in confidence as the match progressed and had a big hand in keeping Nottingham pinned back in that crucial final quarter.

Hartpury’s pressure ultimately earned that penalty and Austin put them ahead to establish a lead they held onto.

Cornwell said afterwards his players felt they had scored a try in one of several forward drives through captain Crane but the referee might have become unsighted on the wrong side of the action.

“I’m not going to pick out individuals. Our defence overall was as good as it has been this season and the win keeps our momentum going.

“Nottingham always want to play here and we kept them in check. They will be disappointed that being at home they ended up scoreless.”

Nottingham coach Craig Hammond looked frustrated afterwards. In contrast to Hartpury’s good start to 2024, his team has only a win over Ampthill to show for their efforts.

“We needed players to take a grasp of the match and none did,” said Hammond. “It’s difficult to explain. We trained well all week and wanted to attack like we do, but just weren’t on our game.”







Drop Goals:





Penalties: Austin 61

Drop Goals:

Teams (15-9; 1-8):

Nottingham: E Mee; D Williams, M Ramage, D Tiueti (J Stapley 68), R Olowofela (H Graham 56); M Arden, M Stronge; K Owen (A Sio 61), H Clayton (A Harris 55), X Valentine (J Bridges 61), S Ferriera, C Joussain (I Maloney-Fiaola 9), S Green, N Tweedy (c), J Cherry (S Hall 50).

Not used: J Godwin.

Hartpury: A Forrester (O Holliday 68); C Powell, J Jenkins, R Smith, B Denty (M Ward 41); M Adderly-Jones, M Austin; A Benz-Salomon, W Crane (c), J Benz-Salomon, D Lemon, J Davies, J Gray, H Short, J Hayler.

Not used: E Hunt, B Jewell, J Rees, C Cobbett, E Hart, J Williams.


Referee: Hamish Grant.

Attendance: 1.049.

Half-time: 00 - 00

Star man: Morgan Adderly-Jones (Hartpury)



Nottingham                                                                    Hartpury

15                               Penalties Conceded                       7

9                                  Line-outs won                                8

5                                  Line-outs lost                                  2

3                                    Scrums won                                   3

0                                    Scrums lost                                    0

1                                      Sin bin                                           0