Hartpury little-changed ahead of Jersey return

Hartpury University go into tomorrow’s Championship Cup quarter-final, second leg, buoyed by a good recent performance against opponents, Jersey Reds, which saw the scores locked at 19-19 come the final whistle.

Joe Howard

Apart from anything else, it represented a significant improvement on the lacklustre display in the home leg against Richmond in the previous round.

Accordingly, Hartpury make just one change to the starting XV for Friday’s away leg, which sees Josh Gray return in place of the absent James Dun.  Dun was one of the stand-out performers last week, but Gloucester back row forward, Gray, has also had a consistent season in and around the squad.

He joins Joe Howard in the back row.  England age group player and former Hartpury ACE-winning skipper, Howard, retains his place after an impressive outing in the first leg in which his carrying and physicality were a feature, alongside Dun and the third member of the trio, Xavier Hastings.

The entire back division is unchanged.

There is a little movement on the bench.  Young hooker, Ethan Hunt – an undergraduate at the university and Gloucester Academy player – is available again, as is student prop forward Jono Benz-Salomon.  England U21 scrum half, Matty Jones, also returns after not playing since the first leg at Richmond.

Head Coach, Mark Cornwell, was happy with his side’s first leg display. 

“It was very different to what we saw against Richmond at home.”

“In the two first round games our approach and mental attitude was way off what we are looking for, but it goes to show that when we get it right we can challenge the top four sides in this league.”

“Now we go there with a very similar squad and why can’t we get a result?  Everybody will have us down as the underdog – and quite rightly, as Jersey finished above us in the league and they’ve just put two big scores on London Scottish – so let’s just give it crack and see where we end up.”

“We’ll try and play some rugby but we’ll also want to match them for physicality and see what we can do over 80 minutes.”

“James Dun will be a miss as I thought he played his best game for us last week – very physical and appearing all over the pitch – but getting Josh back, along with a few others, is, conversely, a plus.”

The winner of the tie will have a single-leg semi-final, at home, to the successful side in the Coventry versus Doncaster quarter-final, in which Coventry hold a 13-point lead with their home leg to come on Sunday.

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