Jersey Reds 7 – Hartpury RFC 10

Head Coach, Mark Cornwell, later described this win as the biggest in his time at Hartpury as his side continued to fight hard at the foot of the Championship table.

Sam Leeming landed a penalty kick in the final minutes of a closely fought game, to secure a nail-biting win over the Jersey Reds.

The kick was followed by a late onslaught from the hosts, whose urgency led to a dramatic finale with several attempts on the Hartpury line.

But the visitors’ defence was remarkable and forced the Reds into errors, ultimately leaving Hartpury elated with their first away win of the season at a normally impregnable Stade Santander International.

The Red and Blacks made the trip to a sunny Jersey for Round 18 of the Green King IPA Championship.

This was always going to be a tough encounter against a strong team, sitting third in the table and playing in front of their home crowd.

But Jersey were also anticipating a challenge and were prepared for a genuine test against the Gloucestershire team who had won two of their last three games.

Returning Jersey-man, Harry Cochrane, maintained the form from his previous starting performance, against Richmond four weeks ago, by once again being named as Hartpury’s man of the match.

Bristol duo, centre Charlie Powell and back-row forward Sam Graham, were welcomed back into the starting line-up, in what looked like a strong selection, despite the return to Gloucester of scrum-half, Ben Vellacott.

The opening stages saw both sides with good field position and, ironically, it was a Hartpury possession which brought the Jersey try.

Jerry Sexton intercepted in midfield and cantered 40 metres to the try line, giving fly-half Brett Herron an easy conversion, to make it 7-0 with only five minutes played.

Hartpury were quick to respond, however, when skipper Simon Linsell crashed over from a driven line-out, leaving the sides all square with 10 minutes on the clock, following the Sam Leeming conversion.

Hartpury then enjoyed the remainder of the half, with opportunities to add to their points tally, but neither side could exert total control during a match in which 26 penalties were awarded.

Jersey were defending hard, preventing any further joy for the Red and Blacks before the break.

The second period started in a similar fashion, with Hartpury having the edge overall but unable to breach a resolute home defence.

Jersey did have an opportunity to edge ahead, but Brett Herron’s 45-metre kick bounced off the uprights, to the visitors’ relief, before another kickable attempt, from Aaron Penberthy, drifted wide.

With the clock running down, Hartpury forced a penalty in a kickable position and Leeming had the pressure kick to put his team within sight of victory.

He kept his composure and Hartpury had the narrow advantage with two minutes remaining.

But the drama was far from over as Jersey responded with a big final effort and looked likely to get some reward as they built pressure in the Hartpury 22.

Several phases brought the Reds within touching distance of the try-line but a knock on from James Newey undermined their efforts and ended home hopes.

Hartpury were free to celebrate their third win in the last four matches, giving the club a real hope of avoiding a return to National League 1.

However, Richmond also won, away at a fading Nottingham, meaning that Hartpury still have everything to do, in their remaining four games, to maintain their current status.

Jersey: Van Damm, Marx, Ma’afu, Best, Newey, Herron (Con 6), Homer, Godfrey, Maddison, Atalifo, Sexton (Try 5), Beckett, Hatherell, Bartle, Venter.  Bench: Macfarlane, Morley, Rodman, Hallam-Eames, Joyce, Howeley, Penberthy

Hartpury: Wilcox, Foley, Powell, Tovey, Seabrook, Leeming (Con 11, Pen 78),  Murphy, Cochrane, Tanner, Harden, Craig, Linsell (Try 10) Dodd, Qera, Graham.  Bench: Stratford, Merrey, Gibson, Ehizode, Langley, Chapman, Reeves

Referee:              Andrew Jackson

Attendance:       1611

 

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