Hartpury RFC 41 – Scarlets Premiership Selection 24

At the fifth attempt, Hartpury finally opened their B&I Cup account and, ultimately, they did it in some style against an equally attack-minded Scarlets Premiership Selection.

That they did it with a young and relatively inexperienced side will be of even greater satisfaction to the coaching staff, with many of this group being drawn from Hartpury’s university team.

Prop Mike Daniels and hat-trick scoring Number 8, Darrel Dyer, were the senior citizens of the squad, at 25, while players like Elias Caven, Charlie Chapman and Tom Everard are all first year undergraduates at the institution.

On a chilly but dry afternoon, the early indications were not at all positive for the Red & Blacks. First, lock Joe Dancer suffered an early concussion before Scarlets centre Corey Baldwin found acres of open space to create a 3rd minute score for midfield partner Rhodri Jones.

Just five minutes later, the Hartpury rearguard was breached again, Ryan Conbeer touching down in the corner to put Scarlets into a 12-0 lead.

Hartpury’s youthful team might have wilted in the face of the early onslaught from a free-running Scarlets but, to their credit, they firstly tightened things up and then began some offensive manoeuvres of their own.

Prompted by the accurate boot of fly-half Sam Leeming they began to take advantage of a rising penalty count against the visitors. After a period of sustained pressure they eventually got some reward when Darrel Dyer finished a series of pounding drives.

Havingended the first half on the front foot, it was disappointing to concede almost immediately at the outset of the second. A missed tackle allowed Scarlets full-back Tom Rogers to make big ground out of defence before Baldwin was on hand to apply the finish.

If that unsettled Hartpury, it did not show as they quickly responded. Again it was Dyer who got the score from close range after another sweeping attack.

Hartpury were really starting to motor by this stage. Lock, BJ Edwards (pictured), fresh off the plane after a short trip home to Australia, was outstanding, making a series of storming carries and totally imposing himself on the game.

Dyer’s back row colleagues, skipper for the day Tom Pashley and open-side Max Clementson were gritty and industrious while, outside them, Charlie Chapman and Leeming got their backs moving freely. Nick Carpenter was a solid presence in midfield and full-back, Ed Coulson, ran with pace and purpose in his best Hartpury performance to date.

Fifteen minutes into the half, with the traffic all one way, Hartpury were awarded a penalty right under the Scarlets’ posts. They elected to scrum and it proved to be a good decision as Dyer, picking up at the base, drove over powerfully to complete his hat-trick and tie the game up at 19-19.

With the match now wide open, Hartpury were starting to find space in the wide areas, with both wingers fully employed. Aquile Smith, in particular, was beginning to enjoy himself and Hartpury were ahead when his run was eventually finished by Coulson for a well-deserved try.
Replacement back row forward Tom Everard was next to collect some points as Hartpury turned the screw on the visitors.

Scarlets lock Josh Helps had just seen a yellow card, carrying the can for a series of misdemeanours from his under-pressure colleagues, when the former Toulouse youngster stretched out a long arm after blasting through a tackle.

The game was wrapped up with five minutes remaining when Smith again made ground on the left before his inside ball saw centre Maliq Holden in acres of space to finish under the posts.

The final quarter also saw a nice cameo from replacement winger Ed Sheldon, who ran with intent and was particularly impressive in his kick chase.

Scarlets continued to run whatever possession they had, but a late try from replacement Stu Worrall was too little, too late, to affect the outcome.

Hartpury will now look to extend their winning run to three, when they travel to Cornish Pirates next weekend in the same competition, before returning to league action at Yorkshire Carnegie at the end of the month.

Hartpury: Coulson (Try 59), Caven, Holden (Try 76), Carpenter, Smith, Leeming (Cons 32, 45, 60, 77. Pen 72), Chapman; Flook, Crane, Gibson, So’oialo-Chan, Dancer, Pashley, Clementson, Dyer (Tries 31, 44, 56). Bench: Stratford, Daniels, Heard, Edwards, Everard (Try 67)

Scarlets: Rogers, Jenkins, Baldwin (Try 41), Rhodri Jones (Try 3), Conbeer (Try 7), Rhys Jones (Con 4), Schwarz; Fawcett, E Phillips, Sebastian, Helps, J Jones, Long, Davis, Condy. Bench Hughes, S Phillips, Thomas, Worrall (Try 78), Ellis-Jones, George, Lloyd (Con 42)

Referee: Sara Cox

Attendance: 736

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