Hartpury little-changed ahead of Jersey visit

Beaten but unbroken after last week’s home defeat to Championship leaders, Ealing Trailfinders, Hartpury make just one change to their starting XV for tomorrow’s visit from 3rd-placed Jersey Reds.

Even that is enforced, due to a head-knock picked up by the impressive Jack Tovey in the closing minutes of the Ealing match.

It is somewhat fortunate for Hartpury that it provides a tailor-made opportunity to re-introduce centre Charlie Foley, missing since he tweaked he groin in the warm-up at Coventry four weeks ago.

It also brings back a bit of symmetry to the three-quarter line that now reads Foley/Foley/Smith/Smith as the two sets of brothers are re-combined.  Hartpury just need to get the Benz-Salomon twins fit and back now…

It retains last week’s effective back row combination of Mitch Eadie, Josh Gray and Harry Short.  Short made his competitive Championship debut in the early-season win over Cornish Pirates, picking up two tries in the process, a feat that he was to repeat at Nottingham in following round.  In fact, he quickly moved to seven tries scored, before deciding to leave it to others.

However, his good finish on the stroke of half-time against Ealing has started his tally moving again and he now stands level with team-mate Robbie Smith and inside the Championship Top 10.   With James Williams continuing to top the overall points table, these are memorable times for Hartpury at this level.

The bench also features many of the players who made a good impact last week, such as young lock James Dun, new tight-head Conran Gleeson and back rower Oli Robinson.  Robinson, in particular, was unlucky to catch a knock against London Scottish which ended a run of strong performances, but the competition for starting places is both intense and very welcome.

DR from Worcester Warriors, loose-head Ben Murphy, is in line for a club debut.

Tommy Mathews also returns from a slight injury as part of a 6-2 split.  With Matty Jones starting for England U20 this weekend, BUCS Super Rugby scrum half, Oscar Lennon, continues to understudy Toby Venner. Tomorrow’s game kicks off earlier than usual, at 1.30pm. 

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