45-7 might look like a mauling, but there were plenty of ‘take-aways’ from last Friday’s game at Kingston Park that will instil confidence into the Red & Blacks ahead of an important home fixture with Nottingham Rugby.
Three tries in the closing minutes took the score away from the realms of respectability against last-season’s Premiership and Champions Cup-ranked Falcons, producing a score-line that was harsher than the Hartpury effort deserved.
“Despite the final tally at Newcastle, we showed some very positive signs of improvement,” said Hartpury Director of Rugby, John Barnes.
“We defended very well in the wide channels and made it difficult for Newcastle to break us down. Coughing up three tries in the final few minutes made the scoreboard difficult reading at full time.”
“The new additions to our squad made a hugely positive impact. In particular Toby Fricker (pictured) and Nick David both had excellent games, facing up to Adam Radwan and Sinoti Sinoti, who are two exceptional, Premiership-quality wingers.”
Hartpury will be eyeing this match as an opportunity to open their account for the season and it will be important for them, now, to back up one decent performance with another.
Three matches ago, also against the Falcons, they produced an encouraging display, only to fall back into old bad habits against Doncaster Knights the following week.
Friday’s opponents, not for the first time in recent seasons, have made a positive start to the Championship campaign. A convincing opening day win, at the home of newly-promoted Ampthill, was followed up by an altogether more gritty performance against an improved London Scottish at Lady Bay, last time out.
However, Hartpury will be keen to continue a run which has seen them win both of their Championship home fixtures against the Green and Whites, most recently during a string of good results towards the end of last season.
This was one of a number of wins which saw the Red & Blacks avoid the trap-door back to National 1.
There have been a few player links between the two clubs in recent seasons, and this year is no exception.
Winger, Ben Foley, was a regular member of the Hartpury first-team in 2018-19, while Nottingham can also call on the services of youngster, Tommy Mathews.
The Wales U-18 fly half completed his sixth-form education at Hartpury – where he was an AASE-winner in 2018 – before joining Northampton Saints over the summer and subsequently being registered with their East Midlands neighbours.
“Nottingham, as always, will be very difficult to beat,” said Barnes.
“They have won their opening two league matches and will want to continue their unbeaten run.”
Hartpury will formally announce their team on Thursday, but Barnes is not expecting too many changes from the side which made a decent fist of things at the Falcons.