Hartpury look to build on solid start

Hartpury travel to Richmond in Saturday, buoyed by a solid home performance in wet conditions that produced a win over Coventry. We will be looking for our first away points of the season.

With three of the opening four opening matches having been at home, Hartpury have only made one away trip so far in this campaign, surrendering a handy 17-6 half-time lead to eventually leave Doncaster without even a bonus point for their efforts.

However, with two wins under their belts so far, and one of their defeats to current unbeaten league leaders, the Cornish Pirates, it has been a steady start to the season by the Red & Blacks.

This Saturday’s opponents have also played the Pirates as one of their early season fixtures and, by many accounts, were unfortunate to come away from the Mennaye with nothing, after pushing the leaders hard  – 29-19 the final score in favour of the Cornishmen.

Richmond’s sole victory, so far, came in their opening day fixture against co-residents, London Scottish, with defeats to Yorkshire Carnegie and the Knights comprising the rest of their four matches to date.

Irrespective of recent results, there is every likelihood that Saturday’s game will be a close one, based on the recent history between these teams, who have met a number of times since both were in National League 2 in the 2011-2012 season.

Richmond took the honours home and away last term, on both occasions requiring late scores in order to do so.  The game at the Athletic Ground was a clear example of Hartpury’s inability to close out results, when two Richmond tries in the final three minutes quickly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Director of Rugby, John Barnes, knows exactly what to expect.

“Richmond, as always, will be a tough challenge,” he said.

Beating us with the last play in both games last year was hard to stomach.

It typifies what they are all about, though – a team that works hard for each other for the full 80 minutes. They’re never easily beaten.”

Barnes was generally happy with his team’s most recent outing, however.

“It was very pleasing to get the win against Coventry,” he said.

We controlled the game well and took our opportunities in the first quarter, when they were down to fourteen. It was hugely disappointing to concede at the end of the first half from a mistake – to have our lead halved right on the whistle was a big blow in those conditions.

Credit to the team, we started the second half well, for once, and were able to defend our lead, despite some shaky moments.

We must still look to cut out the simple errors that are allowing teams back into games against us.”

Hartpury are not expecting too many changes from last week’s line-up, although there is a doubt over skipper Simon Linsell, who took a knock to the shoulder last Saturday.

The final squad will be announced tomorrow for the fixture, at the Richmond Athletic Ground, which kicks off at 3pm.

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