Hartpury RFC will want to quickly move on from last week’s horror show at home to Cornish Pirates, when they were soundly beaten in their final B&I Cup game by a far more motivated and efficient side.
“We’ve got no excuses and the boys know exactly how the management team feels about that performance,” said Head Coach, Mark Cornwell.
“It clearly didn’t help that there was still a lot of doubt about the game at 5pm on the Friday evening, or that this was very much a ‘dead rubber’ for us,” he said.
“However, we were hoping that a number of players would be keen to put their hands up for Championship selection. One or two did, but overall it was a very disappointing performance, with levels well below what we were looking for.
We’ve all been in the situation of having play a meaningless fixture and, yes, almost all of our players are semi-professional. However, we were hoping that they would demonstrate a fully-professional approach to the game and, in many cases, that didn’t happen.
Pirates came with a full squad and with a very clear idea of what they needed to do. Fair play to them, they executed very well and demonstrated completely the opposite mind-set to ourselves.”
Everybody will be expecting the Red & Blacks to be a different proposition this Saturday, when Nottingham Rugby arrive at the Gillman’s Ground for Round 15 of the Greene King IPA Championship season.
Nottingham started the campaign in good form and were riding high in the league when the two sides met at Lady Bay back at the end of September.
There was little between the sides that night, as Hartpury grabbed four tries and two bonus points in a narrow 31-28 defeat, although that represented a strong comeback for the visitors, having been 23-0 down shortly before half-time.
Nottingham’s form has tailed off slightly in recent weeks, amidst news of some high-profile departures from the club.
“Their Head Coach, Ian Costello, has announced that he’s off to Wasps and one of their key players, fly-half Tiff Eden, is going to Bristol at the end of the season,” said Cornwell. “No matter how hard you try, it isn’t easy to continue to develop and keep the side settled in those circumstances. Also, just like us, they’ve had their injuries to deal with.
Having lost their last two league games against London Scottish and Doncaster, they’ll be coming here and looking at our Pirates result thinking that this will be a place where they can pick up some points.
It’s a huge game for us and one that we very much want to win.”
Despite their recent indifferent form, Nottingham have been one of the better sides to watch this season with a style that relies on pace and width, and Cornwell doesn’t expect that to change.
“They’ve got a good shape and Eden pulls the strings very effectively from 10,” he said.
“He will also kick penalties from anywhere in the opposition half, so it will be important that we keep our discipline.”
Club Captain, Rhys Oakley, is a casualty from the Pirates game, accumulating both a calf pull and a knock to the head, so he will be joining other experienced forwards Iain Grieve and Mat Gilbert on the sidelines this weekend.
Gloucester youngsters Tom Seabrook (pictured) and Will Safe are both expected to start for Hartpury, although the full squad will not be announced until Friday lunchtime.