Hartpury continued their march towards the BUCS Super Rugby title with a bonus point win over visitors Cardiff Met last night.
The home side bounced back from last week’s disappointing result to fellow title contenders Loughborough with a five-try 35-7 win to keep themselves top of the table heading into the final round of fixtures and a league-deciding tie against Loughborough.
The match began slowly with both sides trying to get a foothold in the game with Hartpury shading the possession early on. A good period of sustained pressure from the home side eventually saw winger Maliq Holden put Hartpury in front from close range after a clever reverse pass.
The home side were then reduced to 14 as Fuller saw yellow for a high tackle, with Cardiff taking advantage of a kick in front of the posts to reduce the deficit to four.
Despite being a man to the good the away side were unable to keep Hartpury from a second score before half-time as – following a lightning break from Harry Cochrane – the home team were soon awarded a penalty try which Leeming duly converted to take the score to 14-3. Cardiff also saw a man into the sin bin following the try.
The second half started with a sustained period of pressure from the home side that resulted in a number of penalties against Cardiff before Barron eventually battled over for Hartpury’s third of the evening. Leeming again made no mistake with the extras to put Hartpury 21-3 to the good.
Cardiff responded almost instantly however with a try of their own, reducing the deficit to 11 points as Ian Etheridge’s converted try gave them their opening score of the night.
Hartpury were not to be outdone and it wasn’t long before the home side secured their bonus point with hooker Lewis Grinsell selling the Cardiff defence with a great step, Leeming again making the extras.
And it wasn’t long before the home side added a fifth, with replacement Craig Bachurlewski crossing to put Hartpury 25 points in front following another successful conversion from Leeming.
Despite Cardiff grabbing themselves a late consolation try, Hartpury ended 35-17 victors to keep themselves two points clear at the top of the table ahead of Loughborough’s visit next week.
Hartpury captain Sebastian Negri said: “We’ve obviously got to be very happy with a bonus point as any victory over Cardiff is a good one. There was a lot of passion and a lot of energy from the boys and I couldn’t have asked for much more.
“I just asked the team to focus on today and we did just that and now we’ve got keep building this momentum and take it into next week. It’s always nice to get good home support and hopefully that’ll be the same next week when we face Loughborough.
“The team know it wasn’t perfect tonight and there are things we can work on ahead of next week but we’re still really pleased and happy to be coming away with the points.”
With Loughborough also winning against Bath, it leaves next Wednesday’s game as a real showpiece event as the top two face each other at Hartpury in a game which will most likely decide where the title ends up. Exeter’s loss to Durham today means that they are mathematically still in the race but are relying on results to go their way.