Thanks to the Gloucester Citizen and their reporter Will Wood for this week’s match report…
Hartpury’s strong start to their third National 1 season continued after they made it four bonus-point wins out of four.
A few years ago, Fylde looked like one of the most exciting sides in the land – running the ball from everywhere and dazzling fans with their attacking flair. However, they were firmly put in their place by the College side who look on course to be very much in the promotion mix this season.
It took just half an hour to register the try bonus – so it was always going to be a case of how many points they would score.
In their first three outings of this campaign they had racked up over 100 points in total, but putting half a century on the team most associated with former England captain Bill Beaumont, sent out a big message.
It took only six minutes for the fun to begin with a good interchange of passing leading to Sebastian Negri going over from inside the Fylde 22, and fly-half Adam Hastings converting.
Just four minutes later, Hartpury left wing Harry Cochrane scorched his way down the sideline, after full-back captain Mike Wilcox had blasted up the middle and passed left, with Hastings making it 14-0.
The hosts then flexed their scrum muscle on 13 minutes by winning a penalty at the set-piece and kicking to the corner for a five-metre line-out.
The catch and drive set up good field position in the Fylde 22, where good pick and go’s crept closer to the visitors’ uprights, and open-side James Stephenson burrowed over, with Hastings maintaining his 100 per cent record.
A chink in the armour finally proved Hartpury were human when Hastings hit the post with a penalty on 26 minutes from inside the Fylde half.
Order was restored on half an hour though with their bonus-point score when Gloucester’s Junior World Cup-winning scrum-half Harry Randall quick tapped a penalty in the Fylde 22 and fired over, with Hastings improving to 28-0.
With two first-half minutes remaining, the home team made it 35-0 at the break when skipper Mike Wilcox finished off a stunning Hastings chip and chase (pictured, photographer Anna Lythgoe), who then converted.
Hartpury waited just ten second-half minutes before resuming control when Wilcox got his second score – and his team’s sixth – after weaving his way to the line from halfway, with Hastings unsuccessful.
Hastings restored parity by converting try number seven on 55 minutes when former Bristol centre Luke Eves was the beneficiary of good defensive work – which stole the ball at the breakdown and sent it wide – where one piercing break from a teammate laid the platform for Eves’ good support run to get on the end of, for 47-0.
The half century was registered on the hour when outside centre Steve Leonard burst his way over to score from metres out, but Hastings missed for 52-0.
Fylde finally showed some resistance in the dying minutes – presumably when the hosts had eased off – with two late scores.
Inside centre Scott Rawlings picked up two converted tries but, in between, Hartpury maintained their dominance with try number nine, when replacement Joe Dancer finished off Randall’s lightening break.
HARTPURY: Mike Wilcox (captain); George Boulton, Steve Leonard, Luke Eves, Harry Cochrane; Adam Hastings, Harry Randall; Des Merrey, Nathan Taylor, Wayne Thompson (Brockett, half-time); Joe Quinn (Dancer, 50 minutes), Sebastian Negri; Jake Polledri, James Stephenson, Will Safe. Replacements: Mike Flook, Tim Brockett, Joe Dancer, Joe Batley, Jamie Forrester.
FYLDE: Chris Briers; Scott Armstrong, Ralph Dowds, Scott Rawlings, Oli Brennand; Greg Smith, Greg Nicholls; Adam Lewis, Alex Loney, Jake Pope; Nick Gray, Jack Turley; Matt Lamprey, Evan Stewart, David Fairbrother. Replacements: Jonny Wild, Tom Burtonwood, Mark Goodman, Jack Harrison, Anthony Bingham.