Hartpury RFC 36 (97) – Richmond Rugby 40 (66)

Ultimately, Hartpury progressed through to the quarter finals of the end-of-season Championship Cup, but on the day they came up second best to an energised and enthusiastic Richmond side.

Iain Grieve, who’s final competitive game this was after a long and successful career including five seasons at Hartpury RFC

Being 35 points in deficit going into yesterday’s contest, it would have been a miracle if Richmond could turn that around but, to their credit, they gave it a great shot.

It was two largely similar squads that faced each other a fortnight ago and both teams looked to play from the outset. Hartpury started in full flow keeping the ball in hand and pressing the Richmond’s defence.

Eventually, a string of penalties gave Hartpury an attacking lineout on the opposition 5m line. A well-drilled catch and drive saw them fly over with Will Crane coming up with the ball. James Williams missed the conversion in the blustery conditions.

Hartpury soon followed the same route again, after kicking to the corner, but this time Harry Short was the one to dot down behind the powerful drive. Williams added the extras this time for a 12-0 lead.

Hartpury were soon back on the attack and another penalty advantage from an attacking driving lineout and the ball was spun wide, and after some good footwork by George Simpson, Deago Bailey was on hand to power over near the sticks. Conversion added and all looked comfortable for Hartpury, leading 19-0

Richmond then kicked into action. Keeping the ball for multiple phases and earning good field position, a string of poor one on one missed tackles eventually led to Miles Wakeling burrowing over from close range. The conversion was good from Alex Burrage to get Richmond up and running.

Hartpury however hit back immediately, when excellent work from Harry Fry, (returning to Hartpury after two years at the Dragons in Wales) down the blindside led to Sam Smith breaking clear and converting a simple two on one for Deago Bailey to canter over for his second try. Williams again converted to reinstate the 19 point lead, at 26-7.

Richmond responded immediately, with yet more poor defence from the hosts, this time Oscar Waite powering over from close range

An excellent attacking play from a scrum saw Robbie Smith break through the defence and offload to George Simpson, who somehow was held up with the line at his mercy. From the resultant scrum Richmond cleared their lines, only for Hartpury to throw an interception when simple hands would have meant another score.

Richmond ended up on the home line and eventually Ntinga Mpiko burrowed over for another try. All three of Richmond’s tries came in similar fashion and something Hartpury would need to address at half time if they were going to win this game.

HT score 26-19.

Richmond came out the second half with more confidence and, with the wind behind them, they clearly started to believe an upset was on the cards. Especially when they gained field position under the Hartpury posts and took a quick tap and, as three times previously they drove their way over with relative ease. Oscar Waite was again the scorer and Ted Landray knocked the conversion over tie the scores.

The game hit a rather stale patch with neither team finding their rhythm while errors and the referee’s whistle impacted the game as a spectacle. Finally, Hartpury gained some field position from penalties and the trusty drive enabled Aled Ward to get the touch down. Williams, into a tough wind, missed the conversion but Hartpury were back in front by five.

Hartpury were next to score after excellent work from Iain Grieve, in his last competitive rugby match before retirement. Setting up another drive opportunity, a smart shift of the ball in the lineout led to Mitch Walsh carrying over for his first RFC try. Williams, uncharacterisitcally, again missed the conversion but a 10 point lead appeared to be enough with time running . How wrong we were…..

Richmond smartly attacked down the blindside, with a grubber kick being regained by Owain James, leading to substitute Vaughan Bentley crashing over. Once again, Landry was successful with the kick it was down to a three-point game.

From the resulting kick off Tommy Mathews was adjudged to have rolled with the ball on the floor and Richmond had a penalty to kick into the corner with 2 minutes remaining. As on too many occasions in recent weeks, Hartpury again conceded the crucial try from close range.

This time impressive skipper, Myles Scott, barged his way over several tacklers to get the winning score. Landry added the extras to seal a famous win (on the day) for the London Club.

Final score 36-40

Congratulations must go to Richmond, who played with a desire and determination not shown by the hosts on this occasion. Maybe the 35-point lead from the first leg could be to blame. The coaches will be frustrated with a number of poor performances and there are things to certainly work on going into the quarter finals against a very strong and powerful Jersey Reds side.

Notable mentions must go to Iain Grieve who announced his retirement from rugby. Iain has been a great contributor to the game in the South West. From his successful Colston’s school days, his captaincy of Bristol through tough financial times and his stints at Plymouth and Hartpury, where he has been since 2017. We wish Iain all the best in his much deserved retirement.

Also a debut today for Joe Adams, our ACE-winning scrum half, bodes well for the future as he continues into University Rugby next season. He is currently following in the footsteps of internationals Dan Robson, Harry Randall, Stephen Varney as both an ACE winner and a player to make an RFC debut.

The Round 2 fixture with Jersey will again be played over two legs. We are the ALPAS Arena this coming Friday, 29th April, with a 7.45pm KO and will travel to the Channel Islands for the return on Friday, 6th May, also 7.45pm.

All support extremely welcome. Unfortunately we are unable to offer hospitality packages for the home leg, but our usual catering outlets will be fully open.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.