HARTPURY RFC cruised past the 1000-point mark for the season as they continued their unbeaten National League One with a dominant display in an 80-19 win against Blaydon, the bonus point secured with the first quarter barely over.
The hosts got off to a flyer, with centre Ellis Abrahams unleashing a scything run through midfield from the kick-off. The ball was recycled quickly to flanker Jake Polledri to dot down inside a minute.
Only three minutes later, flanker Mat Gilbert’s charging run was followed up by centre Luke Eves to breach the 22 and the ball was worked to captain and number eight, Rhys Oakley, to get over in the corner.
Blaydon rallied for a spell but, although they defended their line valiantly at first, winning a series of penalties, their rearguard was unpicked again when fly-half Jacob Perry lofted a kick out to the wing. Although winger Jonas Mikalcius failed to collect the first time, the ball found its way to him through Oakley and he arced in for the try. Perry converted two of the first three tries for a 19-0 advantage.
Blaydon then revived to enjoy their first forays into the Hartpury half but they never looked like making significant inroads and the hosts were in again in 22 minutes for lock Ben Chan to bring up the bonus point try. Perry converted from the touchline.
While dominant, Hartpury’s execution was somewhat lacking and they looked sloppy in defence at times, which saw the game stagnate until sparking again heading into half-time.
On 38 minutes, the home side used the pick and go to make patient progress before scrum-half Robbie Shaw showed good strength at the back of the ruck to offload to Chan, who fed Perry on a cracking line to sear in for the score and convert.
Although Blaydon worked an overlap to threaten the Hartpury line just before the interval through lock Christopher Wearmouth, play was called back by the referee, who had spotted foul play by hooker Matthew Thompson. He ended up in the bin with his team trailing 33-0.
Hartpury capitalised by starting the second half as they had the first, scoring inside a minute when prop Joshua Ibuanokpe, on loan from Harlequins, barrelled over, but it was some slick interplay between Shaw and Perry that caught the eye in the build-up, along with powerful surges from Chan and Eves.
Only three minutes later, Davis showed off his silky skills with a dancing run to the line for a superb solo score. Perry converted both tries for 47-0.
Blaydon then crafted a well worked score with number eight, Jason Smithson, barging off the scrum. The ball was recycled quickly through the ruck and the hands of centre Andrew Baggett to winger Frazer Wilson for the try. Fly-half Brett Connon converted.
The 50-minute mark brought another Hartpury try though as Shaw was on the shoulder of the electric Davis to score. The extras missed but Perry made amends as he converted the pushover try grounded by Oakley that saw John Barnes’ men exceed the millennium mark for the season.
As Blaydon tired, more gaps started to open up and it was all too easy for Hartpury to work the overlaps, Davis profiting to go over in the corner before Harlequins’ man Mikalcius used his blistering pace to cruise in. Perry converted both for 73-7.
The visitors did stem the tide with an unconverted try for replacement Joseph Melia and, with only five minutes left on the clock, lock Andrew Archibald got over after a series of well won rucks; the second try converted by Connon.
Hartpury’s riposte was swift though with a devastating drive that Blaydon were powerless to halt legally resulting in a penalty try being awarded. Perry’s conversion brought up the 80 points for a handsome 21st National League One victory in a row.
HARTPURY: M. Wilcox, L. Davis, E. Abrahams, L. Eves, J. Mikalcius, J. Perry, R. Shaw (H. Cochrane 66); M. Flook (D. Merrey 51), N. Taylor, J. Ibuanokpe (W. Thompson 51), J. Quinn, B. Chan, J. Polledri (J. Dancer 66), M. Gilbert (J. Stephenson 40), R. Oakley (c, M. Gilbert 74).
BLAYDON: J. Cooney, J. Smith, T. Grimes (T. Small 58), A. Baggett, F. Wilson, B. Connon, M. Connon; R. Morris (J. Melia 51), M. Thompson (C. Bell 58), T. Davison, C. Wearmouth, A. Archibald, J. Beckwith (M. Charlton 51), J. Davidson, J. Smithson. Rep not used: N. Horsfall.
REFEREE: Mr Shane Lewis (RFU)
STAR MAN: Levi Davis (Hartpury).
FT: HARTPURY 80, BLAYDON 19
HT: HARTPURY 33, BLAYDON 0
Tries: Polledri, Oakley (2), Mikalcius (2), Chan, Perry, Ibuanopke, Davis (2), Shaw, Pen try.
Conversions: Perry (10)
Tries: Wilson, Melia, Archibald.
Cons: Connon (2)