Encouraging signs ahead of the new season

Hartpury worked hard in the sun on their pre-season visit to Aviva Premiership side Worcester Warriors and, despite a few leaked tries as the second half drew on, there was plenty for the coaches to be happy about in the performance.

Both sides came to the game with big squads, the intention being to provide match practice for as many players as possible.  The conditions were fine and the 3G surface was, of course, nothing unusual for either team.

Hartpury started with what looked like being close to a ‘first XV’, a selection that saw Dan Murphy, Rupert Harden, BJ Edwards, Darrel Dyer and Ed Sheldon make their first appearances in the Red & Black, whilst returning former player Rob Langley also featured.

The top flight outfit began the game stronger and were ahead very early, although Hartpury were far from being outclassed.

The set piece was working well, with Murphy and Harden providing both strength and experience at scrum-time while the line-out was its usual reliable self.  A solid effort from the front five was complemented by a hard-working back row in which Dyer promises to be an excellent acquisition from former National 1 rivals, Coventry.

Hartpury built pressure as the half progressed and got their reward just before the half hour when, after a series of powerful drives followed by a strong Steve Leonard effort, lively scrum-half Harry Cochrane spread the ball wide for winger Sheldon to cross in the corner.

They were close again on the stroke of half time, the forwards working the ball close to the Warriors line before the impressive Mat Gilbert was stopped inches short.

The interval saw a raft of changes for both teams, including an entirely new XV for the hosts, and it was Hartpury who opened the second half scoring.  Profiting from some mis-handling in the Worcester midfield, winger Elias Caven – returning to the club permanently after some loan appearances last season – had the pace to score from deep in his own half.

Perhaps as a result of the changes, Hartpury lost their way a little bit defensively in the third quarter and Warriors were able to manufacture a number of scores, although the much-changed visiting pack were still holding their own at the scrum.

Young scrum half Charlie Chapman (pictured) re-energised the Hartpury effort in the final quarter and a further period of pressure brought a try for another debutant, James Williams, who did enough in the second half to suggest that he and Jacob Perry will have a good tussle for the starting fly-half berth this season.

Overall, there were plenty of indicators that Hartpury will be a competitive presence in the Championship this season and they will look to refine their performance when Rosslyn Park visit the College next Saturday, 19th August.  Kick off for that game will be the usual 2.30pm and entry is FREE.


  1. We agree with most comments. Hartpury started a little hesitantly and gave away an early easy try. But then they seemed to realise that they had to step up to the mark and did so. Their confidence increased and slowly they began to give as good as they got in all departments. As the first half developed Hartpurys defensive tackles became more and more difficult for their opponent to break through and this encouraging show of defensive display led to more attacks by the visitors. At half time Hartpury whilst being behind were by no means being outplayed. The second half saw Worcester bringing on a lot more fresh players which understandably caused Hartpury an energy deficit; it wasn’t a question of fitness but more a surplus of fresh Worcester legs. Overall it was a good work out for Hartpury facing basically two different set of opponents. A very encouraging start indicating we are not going to roll over easily in the championship. Looking forward to next weeks game. Come on Hartpury.

    Debi & Vic (patrons)÷

    • Hi Debi and Vic. Great to have you on board!

      We are glad that you appreciated the performance. We can take a lot from the game knowing that our set piece is likely to stand up to most tests and that our defence should be good enough in most games. It was great to score three tries against a Premiership squad and, frankly, we could – and possibly should – have had a couple more…

  2. Hi there,
    I’m a Worcester Warriors fan, and I must congratulate you guys on a great performance on Saturday.
    You gave the Warriors a good test, and you thoroughly deserved your tries, and the fact that you didn’t give up.
    It was good to see our “old boy” Matt Gilbert once again. He put in a solid shift.
    I was particularly impressed with your #9 and #22.
    Based on that performance, you will certainly be a threat to the established championship sides.
    When Warrior fixtures do not coincide with your home games, I may come down and give you guys a cheer.
    Best wishes for the season ahead.

    • Andy

      Thanks for your kind words. We learnt a lot from the game on Saturday and we still have a few very good players to come into the squad, so we look ahead to the Championship season with some optimism. We play the ‘Hartpury way’ from age 16 and upwards, through our university side and into the Championship squad so, apart from being a successful club, we believe that we are always good value to watch. We would love to to see you at Hartpury if our fixtures don’t clash and maybe we can repeat the pre-season fixture next year? Either way, we would certainly wish the Warriors all the very best for the season ahead (even if most of us are Gloucester fans!).

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