Seven changes as Hartpury look for first Goldington Road win

Hartpury make seven changes to the 23 that started the season well against Richmond last weekend – four in the starting fifteen and three on the bench – for the Friday night clash at Bedford Blues.

Three of those are injury-enforced.  Wing Jack Johnson and back-row forward Will Safe both took knocks to the head in the Richmond game and will need to return via the necessary protocols.

Co-captain Luke Stratford is a more serious absence – he sustained a jaw fracture in Saturday’s win and may miss a number of matches.  Fortunately our other co-captain, Will Crane, is fit again and ready to slot into the hooking berth.

The Richmond match was notable for a high number of injury stoppages.

“It’s been a year and, for all of the preparation you do, it still came as a bit of a shock to a few of the lads,” said Head Coach, Mark Cornwell.  “It looked like a battlefield at times, with people strewn all over the place!”

“The doctor was busy.  He had at least two cuts to deal with and two HIAs from us.  A few of the boys told us that they were pretty sore on Sunday.”

Joe Howard, who got a good run off the bench on his club debut last week, steps up to the starting line-up to replace Safe.  Howard is one of many squad members who has developed through the Hartpury rugby programme, before making his Premiership debut for Gloucester last season, where he is a member of the senior academy.

“BUCS Super Rugby” followers will need no introduction to ‘swervin’ Ervin Muric, who steps in for Johnson on the right wing.  This will be his first RFC appearance since the 2018-19 season.

Will Flinn starts at nine, with Calum Waters moving to the bench, reflecting the rotation that is likely to be seen across the squad this season, while an extra forward on the bench is a response to both injuries and the weather forecast.

Joining the replacements is seasoned campaigner Iain Grieve, now in his fourth season at the Alpas Arena.  Alongside him will be another Gloucester youngster, Josh Gray, who also made his Premiership debut last season and who many will remember for the exceptional try that he scored against the Exeter Chiefs.

The final change is the fourth Gloucester Academy member in the squad (alongside Howard, Gray and Olly Adkins), highly-rated centre Tom Stanton, a product of Cheltenham College.

The game kicks off at Goldington Road, a venue where Hartpury are yet to win, at 7.45pm.

You can watch every game live via the live-stream this season.  Tickets are available here.

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