After the exciting 19-19 result last week it was all to play for and a home semi-final for the winners at the Stade Santander International on Friday night.
Hartpury initially faced a slight breeze up the slope but otherwise decent conditions for a hopefully exciting game.
Jersey were fastest out the blocks with a sustained attack but the Hartpury defence stood firm and eventually won a penalty that James Williams kicked well into the jersey half. Several passing and kicking errors then led to a 60m field position gain for Jersey and the first scrum of the night. Little did we know, but this would become synonymous with the game as a whole…. Error from Hartpury followed by a hugely dominant Jersey scrum.
Jersey worked their way into the corner from a scrum penalty and their faltering line-out drive from last week was quickly forgotten as a powerful surge allowed them to get the first try of the match, finished by leading scorer Eoghan Clarke.
Hartpury then enjoyed a period of possession and managed to keep ball in hand, gaining a few penalties and allowing them to have their first drive opportunity. This again, like Jersey’s, was successful, with Will Crane dotting down. James Williams knocked over the conversion and Hartpury had a 7-5 lead.
The game became cagey for a period with defences being on top and kicking exchanges becoming more prevalent.
The next significant action came when Charlie Foley was shown a yellow card for a deemed deliberate knock on in the tackle. This resulted in a series of strong jersey scrums with several penalties and a final warning to the Red & Blacks. Finally, and maybe luckily for Hartpury with no yellow card shown, Number 8 Tim Grey powered over to score under the posts. The simple conversion gave jersey a 12-7 lead.
Hartpury had one more chance to score but were held up just short from another line out drive opportunity.
The second half started poorly for the visitors, with two simple knock ons and a forward pass when in key positions. A poor box kick then led to a Jersey score, skewed straight up in the air and fielded well by the hosts and several slick hands later they were over for an important try finished by Dan Barnes.
There was a glimmer of hope for Hartpury as Sean O’Connor was shown a red card for a dangerous clear out on James Williams. Luckily, after some treatment, the fly-half was up and ok.
This red card seemed to inspire Jersey more and they upped the both tempo and their set piece dominance. Hartpury were never in the game from this point, with the forward power of 7 men dominating in most aspects.
It became 30-7 with the clock running down, from a try by hooker TJ Harris and the home side had done the job, although there was still time for Charlie Foley to grab an excellent try, showing pace to fly over in the final minute. As a consolation this was well-deserved but the result was never threatened..
Congratulations to Jersey and best of luck in the semi final.
This was the last game for Hartpury and for many players on behalf of the club. We wish them all well in their next steps, wherever they may be. More news on that as the summer progresses.
It brought to and end an imprived season for Hartpury, but leaves plenty to work on before 2022-23…
Thank you for all your support!