This was the second competitive and entertaining game between these two teams in as many weeks and, just like before, there was only a single try in it at the final whistle.
This may have been another Hartpury defeat, but it was a good and spirited performance which perhaps left Ulster slightly flattered by the final score-line.
On a raw Ballymena afternoon, four tries from home-town hooker Adam MacBurney, all coming from driven lineouts, secured the result for Ulster, but Hartpury were unlucky not to pick up a bonus point of their own when they knocked on, over the line, in the closing seconds, after finally getting outside the home defence.
Hartpury had made 10 changes to the starting line-up from the previous week, with four debutants included in the match-day 22.
The squad contained 17 players who are either current students or recent graduates of the institution and they approached the game with enthusiasm and vigour.
The match started brightly for the visitors, but it was Ulster who opened the scoring with MacBurney’s first after 14 minutes. Referee Mark Patton had a busy afternoon with the whistle and a string of penalties, awarded both ways, created the platform for a succession of lineout drives.
Following the pattern of last week’s clash, Hartpury struck back in similar fashion shortly afterwards, when Darrel Dyer (pictured) finished a series of pick and goes off an attacking lineout, before Ulster and MacBurney added their second early in the 22nd minute.
Again Hartpury bounced back. With the forwards driving close, the backs steamed in to add their weight and it was centre Maliq Holden who came up with the ball.
MacBurney completed his hat-trick before the break and topped off his haul in the 46th minute, after which a penalty kicked by MacPhillips stretched the lead out to 27-12.
From that point on, Hartpury were the better side, seeing a lot of the ball but without creating too many clear-cut chances.
The visiting bench did make an impact and, with Joe Mullis and Mike Daniels on in the front row, a powerful 5-metre scrum produced a penalty try with 12 minutes to play.
Now dominating possession, Hartpury were close on a couple of occasions but errors prevented further scoring.
Max Clementson and Tom Everard, on their first appearances in the back row, both worked tirelessly and the two other debutants, Ewan Fenley and Tom Pashley, added second half impetus.
Hartpury’s young players will take a lot from this game, although we are likely to see a more familiar line-up in the two remaining matches of 2017, important Championship fixtures at Jersey, next Friday, and then at home to Rotherham Titans on December 30th.
Ulster A: Lyttle, Kernohan, Owens, Herron, Busby, MacPhillips (Cons 22, 38. Pen 56), Stewart; O’Hagan, MacBurney (Tries 14, 21, 38, 46), O’Toole, Browne, Dalton, Ross, Hall, Jones. Bench: McCall, O’Sullivan, Montgomery, Agnew, Shanahan, Moore, Cairns.
Hartpury: Coulson, Ducker, Holden, Forrester, Caven, Perry, Cochrane; Flook, Crane, Heard, Quinn, Dancer, Everard, Clementson, Dyer. Bench: Mullis, Gibson, Daniels, So’oialo-Chan, Pashley, Fenley, Carpenter.
Referee: Mark Patton