Hartpury, who have been enjoying good performances despite two successive losses, are forced into a number of changes for Saturday’s trip to the current Championship leaders, Doncaster Knights.
Scrum half, Toby Venner, so good in recent weeks, has joined the Bristol Bears to alleviate their injury woes at half-back, for the remainder of the season – in fact, he goes straight onto their bench for Friday night’s Premiership game with Worcester Warriors at Sixways. We wish him well.
This means a first start of the campaign for Oscar Lennon at 9, with Ollie Wynn, a young scrum-half from the Warriors academy, coming on to the bench. Welshman Lennon, who is a current undergraduate, has so far been playing mainly as a Championship replacement – selected in 10 of 17 match day squads – and in university rugby this season. However, he is certainly capable of holding his own at this level, as he has already shown.
The other concerns largely relate to injury, with loose-head Conor Maguire and centre Robbie Smith both needing to serve a week out in relation to concussion protocols. This will be Smith’s first ‘miss’ of the season whilst Maguire was absent for a few games recently, before making his return against Ealing two weeks ago.
Fortunately, Hartpury have cover. Charlie Foley was forced off against the Reds last week, but his injury was not as severe as it first appeared and he is fit to face his former club. Jack Tovey, who had been playing very well before missing the Jersey fixture, is happily ready to return in the 13 shirt.
Lewis Holsey, who has also performed well in recent weeks, is available to step in for Maguire and Ben Murphy, having made his club debut last week, is also in the 23.
As previously reported, both flanker Harry Short and full-back George Simpson have rib injuries. Therefore, England U20 player, Tommy Mathews, slots neatly into 15, while former Bath Rugby youngster, Xavier Hastings, will get another chance to show what he can do on the open-side.
Winger Sam Smith (pictured) will get the chance to back up his man-of-the-match performance from the Reds game, his personal try and contribution to much of what Hartpury did well against Jersey making the choice well-deserved. Like brother Robbie, he has been almost ever-present, starting 15 of 16 matches so far.
The remainder of the 23 also has a generally familiar look, however there is an interesting new name on the bench.
Will Capon, the 22-year old hooker, has arrived on DR from Bristol Bears and has been training with the squad. Since having made his club debut for the Ashton Gate side in 2018 – coincidentally, against the Knights in the Championship – he has appeared for the Bears first team on more than 50 occasions, the majority of them in the Premiership and a number as a starter, picking up eight tries in the process. He played Premiership rugby as recently as last month and we look forward to seeing him in Red & Black.
The match kicks off at 2.30pm at Castle Park.