Record wrapped up as Hartpury steam clear at league summit

rfc-vs-old-albaniansHartpury RFC defied filthy conditions in Hertfordshire to clinch a record-breaking 32-0 victory at newly-promoted Old Albanians.

An astonishing 11th consecutive bonus point win broke the record for National League One and above for the most bonus point victories in a row ever achieved.

More importantly though, Hartpury are now an impressive 12 points clear at the top of National League One after nearest challengers, Birmingham Moseley, slipped up 27-20 at Plymouth Albion.

The inclement weather certainly played its part in a very stop-start game, where champagne rugby was never going to be on the cards.

A greasy surface and wet ball meant that attacking rugby gave way to plenty of scrums and there was an early blow in that department for Hartpury as prop, Wayne Thompson, had to leave the field after only five minutes with a back injury.

There was a silver lining though as he was replaced by former Hartpury student, the hugely talented Alec Clarey, who was making his first appearance this season.

The visitors were able to take an early lead when full-back Mike Wilcox went over in the corner for an unconverted try.

The next score came from back row Mat Gilbert after he broke off from a powerful drive, and although the extras were again missed, fly-half Jacob Perry made amends with a successful penalty soon after.

Winger Elias Caven’s great feet and lovely deft chip ahead then lit up proceedings and looked set to build Hartpury’s advantage but the referee judged that he knocked on as he went over the line, to leave Hartpury with a 13-0 half-time advantage.

With the game far from secure, Hartpury came out the blocks firing in the second half and soon had the crucial four-try bonus point secured thanks to touchdowns from back row  Jake Polledri and scrum-half Harry Randall.

It was a good job they wrapped matters up so quickly as the weather then started to deteriorate and both teams got bogged down in the conditions with few moments of magic to lift the crowd.

Hartpury did still have some more firepower to unload though and they set the seal on the victory with a close range try from replacement James Stephenson after he returned from his yellow card, converted by Robbie Shaw.

OLD ALBANIANS: B. Palmer, N. Poster, C. Dowsett, J. Lombaard, G. Elliott, O. Burgess, M. Thompson; H. King, J. Taylor, T. Reed, L. Bickle, R. Hamilton, B. Johnson, A. Daish, S. Lunnon. Replacements: O. Walliker, A. Boggis, B. Tuilagi, A. Gliksten, J. Shanahan.

HARTPURY RFC: M. Wilcox, E. Caven, S. Leonard, L. Eves, J. Mikalcius, J. Perry, H. Randall; D. Merrey, N. Taylor, W. Thompson, J. Quinn, J. Dancer, J. Polledri, M. Gilbert, R. Oakley. Replacements: J. Stevenson, M. Flook, A. Clarey, B. Chan, R. Shaw.

ATTENDANCE: 225

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