Hartpury could hardly have a harder task this weekend than the visit of an in-form Jersey Reds.
That’s the view of Director of Rugby, John Barnes, as his side seek to end a run of three defeats when the islanders arrive at the Gillman’s Ground this coming Saturday (2.30pm).
The latest of those came at Nottingham last weekend, as the home side adapted better to some wet and wild conditions to wrap up a comfortable 26-7 victory.
“A disappointing opening half hour against Nottingham left us with a mountain to climb,” said Barnes.
“Despite the weather, Nottingham came out in full attack mode against us and we struggled to cope in the early exchanges.”
“Conceding two tries in that opening period was always going to make difficult for us. We did have chances, in the first half, to get back into the game but individual errors again let us down.”
“We battled much better in the second half but could only get across the line once. Full credit to Nottingham, though. They are a good side and showed us on the day what it takes to win championship matches.”
Jersey will arrive in Gloucestershire in ominously good form. After a frustrating start to the season, in which they suffered three narrow defeats, they have hit their stride in recent weeks.
A big home win over Yorkshire Carnegie was followed by an equally comprehensive result away at Doncaster.
Both of those results were topped last weekend, however, when a 33-10 score-line over high-flying Cornish Pirates really caught the eye.
“The challenge could be no greater than an in-form Jersey side this weekend,” said Barnes.
They have fully demonstrated their credentials with some excellent recent results. They are an extremely physical and sizeable team and we know how tough it’s going to be on Saturday.”
There could be a couple of familiar faces in the Reds’ squad, as both Rory Bartle and Alex Clarey played plenty of rugby in the Red & Black before moving on to professional careers.
Scrum half Will Homer played a handful of games in National One while in dual registration from Bath, while Charlie Beckett also came ‘over the fence’ during his time at Gloucester Rugby.
Hartpury may be requiring the use of dual-registered players again this Saturday, as players such as Steve Leonard, Iain Grieve and Joe Quinn continue their absence through injury. The full squad will be announced tomorrow.