Hartpury look set to go ahead with Nottingham fixture

As it stands, after two postponements involving Hartpury University RFC, it looks as though the fixture with Nottingham (Sunday 2.30pm) is set to go ahead.

Of course, Hartpury will continue to test players both tomorrow and on match-day but, as it stands, the Red & Blacks are able to field a decent-looking line-up for what will be their first game in a month.

The fixtures against Ealing and the Cornish Pirates were both postponed, meaning that the club have had an un-planned ‘mini-break’ in their season.

It also means that the club come into the fixture on the back of two successive wins and will be looking to make in three in a row for the first time in their Championship history.

However, there is some ‘previous’ in this regard concerning Nottingham, as earlier in the season the Red & Blacks were coming off one of their best-ever Championship performances, the 38-17 win over the Pirates, when a dismal and error-strewn first-half saw them lose the next game, at Lady Bay, by 22-20, despite a second-half come-back.

“I mentioned it this morning to boys that our performance at Nottingham is still a source of disappointment to me,”  said Head Coach Mark Cornwell.

“We were very off-colour in the first half.  Things happened in the early part of that game which cost us the match.  We turned it around after the break but it wasn’t enough.”

“It was a hugely disappointing performance.  If you look at performances this season we’ve either played well or – when we’ve lost – you could hold your hand up and say we were beaten by the better side.  That was the one game where we definitely let it slip and we’re keen to put that right by our performance this weekend.”

“The other issue – that we’ve been battling with all season – is our discipline and that has been a major focus in our training and thinking this week.”

Regarding Sunday’s team, there is some good news in that centre Charlie Foley is fully recovered from his bout of coronavirus and is available to resume his partnership with Robbie Smith in what has become a very effective midfield.  Number 8, Mitch Eadie, also had a brush with infection that would have kept him out of the Pirates match, but is now fit to play.

There is great news for Aristot “Totti” Benz-Salomon who will be making his first Championship start, having made his club competitive debut off the bench in the November fixture with Doncaster.  This is a great reward for a string of good performances for the University 1st XV in BUCS Super Rugby and follows up the success of twin brother Jonothan – currently sadly injured – who had started the season as a regular squad member.

Provided there are no withdrawals in the next 48 hours, it is a strong and well-rested Hartpury squad that will take the field, although the game has come just too soon for co-captain and scrum half, JB Bruzulier, who will have to wait until the fixture at Coventry in a fortnight before making a return.

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