Jersey’s Harvey Biljon was understandably delighted after his teams’ 8-try demolition of an off-colour Hartpury.
“We were disappointed after last week’s defeat to Coventry but, fair play to the players and the coaches, we prepared really well for this game and, particularly in the first half, we executed on our plans.”
“On top of that, Max Argyle was playing his 100th game for the club and I’m sure that the lads put a bit extra in for him as well!”
Hartpury, in contrast, conceded 50 for the second week running and, with Saracens as their final week opponents, are in danger of seeing their season end in a very negative manner.
The home team had made changes to prevent any repetition of the scrum-time woes experienced at Pirates the week before. In the event, the scrum was pretty solid but the team went backwards in almost every other respect.
There could be no blaming the conditions either. After a wet, squally week, the game started calm and dry and ended in spring sunshine, while the playing surface looked like a carpet. The surroundings were enjoyed by a crowd of spectators for the first time since February 2020.
After an even opening, Jersey raised their tempo to pick up five first-half tries and quickly end the game as a contest.
Tom Williams opened the scoring when Hartpury failed to deal with a loose ball close to their own line and unwittingly assisted the Reds by keeping it in play for the winger to get the final touch.
Williams doubled his tally a few minutes later. With a penalty advantage being played, Brendan Cope launched a pin-point cross-field kick for Williams to win the aerial contest and run under the posts.
Hartpury did show some fight and grabbed a try early in the second quarter. It was no surprise that it came from their own Williams – James – whose individual effort underlined his position as the team’s most important attacking player.
The improvement was temporary, however, as Hartpury’s lack of discipline started to bite. A penalty kicked to the corner was the perfect platform for the Jersey pack, although it was scrum half Max Green who sneaked over at the back of drive.
Jersey added two more before the interval, Williams completing his hat-trick unhindered as the Reds sliced though the home defence, before a looped Hartpury pass in midfield was an easy target for Cope to pick off and go the distance.
The second half was marginally better for the home side who saw youngsters Oscar Lennon – after some good work by Ben Foley – and Morgan Monks collect their first and second tries for the club respectively.
But the half still belonged to the Reds, who scored further tries from Scott van Breda, Jack Macfarlane and Bader Pretorius.
Hartpury DoR, John Barnes, found it hard to hide his disappointment. “That’s close to our worst performance since we came into the Championship four years ago. A few of our players need to look at themselves and decide if they really want to play at this level.”
Hartpury now travel to the Stonex Stadium to face the recent Premiership and European champions. Everybody connected with the club will be hoping that the players can step up and end the season on a better note.
Hartpury: Simpson, Muric, R Smith, J Williams (Try 24, Con 68), Foley, Bragman (Con 25), Lennon (Try 46); Porter, Stratford, Knight, Clark, Lemon, Grieve, Howard, Monks (Try 67) . Bench: Crane, Maguire, Challenger, Ehizode, Wilson, Jones, Eves, S Smith.
Jersey: Van Breda (Try 43), T Williams (Tries 9, 18, 33), Roberts, Barnes, Owen, Cope (Try 35, Cons 10, 19, 36, 44, 78), Green (Try 29); Dawe, Clarke, Parker, Farrance, O’Connor, Cook, Wynne, Argyle. Bench: Macfarlane (Try 70), Vaughan, Higgins, Scott, Bainbridge, M Williams, Elliott, Pretorius (Try 77).
Referee: Sarah Cox