That was the verdict on the Hartpury performance in a chastening defeat at runaway league leaders, Ealing Trailfinders, according to Head Coach Mark Cornwell.
“OK, we showed the ambition to go out there and try and score four tries – and they have been conceding very little so far – but from a coaching point of view there were a few things that came out of that game that we have needed to address.”
“Yes, it was 28-14 at half-time, but that score-line didn’t really reflect the game – we were never really in it.”
“There were some issues around work-rate, commitment and desire that were just not acceptable.”
“We’ve done a lot work this week, in our analysis and in our training, to try and address that. We’re certainly going to be making some changes ahead of the Nottingham game.”
“Ealing are exceptionally good and they’re going to make it very difficult for whoever the other challengers are going to be – Saracens, Pirates, Doncaster, whoever. They’re stronger, this season, than they’ve ever been. They’re well-drilled and with a lot of firepower.”
“If any club is going to go down to The Mennaye and win (Pirates host Ealing this weekend), it’s going to be them. They’ve scored 50 or more points in all four games this season and they’re good enough to be a Premiership outfit.”
“But, as a coach, you’re always going to come up against teams that are better than you, more experienced than you. You expect that. What you always want to see, regardless of the result, is the determination, the desire and the work ethic. We’re going to be looking hard at the squad that is picked this weekend and we’re going to be looking for a reaction to what happened in that last match.”
“We’re certainly asking for a lot more, but it’s up to the players now to show that they are accountable. We need them to care about the detail and the performance levels, which is something that we’ve focused on a lot over the past few days. In many ways it’s not something that we can coach – they have to find it within themselves.”
Nottingham Rugby – this weekend’s opponents – in the stark terms of both the league table and the results to date, appear to be at the other end of the scale from the Trailfinders, following four defeats from four games played. But, after a relatively short pre-season and a difficult opening – Ealing were their first opponents – there have been definite signs of improvement.
“Whenever we’ve played against Nottingham they’ve always been a well-coached, well-drilled team,” said Cornwell.
“There have always been aspects of their game which are very effective and, although there’s been a lot of changes, there’s still a sprinkling of players that have been with them for a while with some new young talent added in.”
“They obviously faced a number of challenges coming into the season but if you look at the performances levels, from their opening game against Ealing to last week against Coventry, you can see that things are starting to gel for them in certain areas.”
“They look as though they are working hard for each other – which I would expect from the coaching group that they have there – and coming into this game on the back of a drubbing, as we are, this is going to be a real test for our boys and a hurdle that we need to overcome.”
Health-wise, Hartpury remain in pretty good shape, with only co-captain Luke Stratford as a long-term absentee, although his return to play could be somewhat quicker than originally feared.
Industrious back-row forward, Aled Ward, took a knock against Ealing and will not feature this weekend, but fly-half Joshua Bragman – who was forced off at half-time – has since trained well.
Hartpury will announce the match-day squad for Nottingham at noon tomorrow.
Saturday’s game will kick-off at 4.30pm, with times being staggered to minimise live-stream clashes. You can watch the whole game live, as always, by purchasing your live-stream ticket HERE.