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Loan watch: Hartpury suffer last-gasp defeat at Coventry

Seven Bears players were in dual-registration action over the weekend, with a last-gasp defeat for Hartpury and an emphatic win for high-flying Clifton.

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GKIPA Championship
Coventry 34-33 Hartpury RFC

Charlie Powell, James Dun and Mitch Eadie all featured for Hartpury as they suffered a last-gasp defeat at the hands of Coventry on Saturday.

Toby Venner's last try looked to have sealed a narrow victory for Hartpury, but a successful penalty with the final kick of the game condemned them to a heartbreaking defeat. 

Coventry's Ryan Burrows was the first to cross from a driven lineout after Hartpury had been penalised deep in their own half and the same player went close from the base of a scrum in the aftermath of the Crane injury, Jonathan Kpoku following up well to double the early lead to 14-0.

Coventry themselves quickly lost Kpoku to a leg injury – we hope it’s not too serious – and then lost momentum as Hartpury finally managed to keep some ball and play through a few phases.

With half-backs Toby Venner and Mathews prompting intelligently, half-gaps began to appear.  Penalties were also starting to come the way of the men in red, but the occasional lineout misfire undermined the ability to fully profit.

Coventry went close through a break-out led by Sam Aspland-Robinson, before Hartpury registered their first points of the afternoon.

Ciaran Knight and Dale Lemon both made heavy carries in midfield before the Smith brothers, first Robbie then Sam, made good ground down the right.  With the forwards supporting well at the subsequent breakdown, it was tight-head Knight who made the final thrust.

With half time five minutes away, 14-7 would have been an acceptable end to a chaotic half of rugby for the visitors.

Instead, they surrendered a simple three points to the boot of Tony Fenner right from the re-start, Oli Robinson unlucky to have been pinged when clearly not held in the tackle.  Worse was to come on the stroke of half-time.

Both sides surrendered possession, loosely, on two or three occasions before impressive Coventry hooker, Jordan Poole, finally made the telling break, his pass leaving replacement scrum-half Josh Barton with a simple finish under the posts.  Now it was 24-7, following the kick, and Hartpury had undone a lot of their earlier recovery.

Whatever was said and done at half-time – or maybe it was just the opportunity to regroup for the visitors – was transformative.

Toby Venner made the first of a series of thrilling interventions shortly after the re-start – making 40 metres through the home defence – and, although that came to nothing, the pattern had been set.

It was Venner again who won the penalty turnover as Coventry tried to play clear.  Ethan Hunt, Crane’s early replacement, found his man from the lineout and was there again to emerge with the ball as the drive did its job.  24-14 after the kick.

Within three minutes, the Red & Blacks were in again.  Coventry were loose in possession around their own 10 metre line and Jimmy Williams was quick to spot the opportunity.  His pass to Robbie Smith was well-timed and nobody was catching him from 25 metres out.

The conversion was wide, but at 24-19 Hartpury were back in business and an astonishing recovery looked to have been completed just two minutes later. 

Hartpury attacked from the restart, a Tommy Mathews chip over the Coventry defence around half-way falling beautifully for Smith to get his hands on the ball again.  Venner was in support and, after bouncing out of one tackle, had the sheer gas to go under the posts untouched to make it 24-26 and the first bonus point of the day.  Breath-taking stuff.

Coventry were looking shell-shocked but, to their credit, they did rouse themselves with a series of strong carries, replacement lock Nile Dacres showing up well.

A beautifully judged kick from Tom Curtis had the Hartpury defence scrambling close to their own line and, from the resulting lineout, the returning Josh Bainbridge broke out of the drive to score Coventry’s fourth try. 31-26.

Into the final 10 minutes and both sides knew that they needed another score.  Fenner, for once, missed a kick that could have made it an eight-point gap, while Hartpury continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession, playing with width and ambition.

A stunning 50-22 kick from Mathews gave them field position, although Dacres stole the lineout to keep his side in control.

Eventually it came down to a dramatic final two minutes.  A horribly thrown lineout gave Hartpury the scrum on half-way.  Mitch Eadie, an influential second-half figure, broke from the base and his inside ball was the prompt for more Venner magic, as the scrum-half wove inside and then out, at express pace, to score in the corner.

Better was to come for Hartpury, as Williams landed his most challenging kick of day to make it 31-33.

From the re-start Hartpury looked to be in control of the ball, before Mr James, with blue shirts strewn off their feet all across the breakdown, somehow decided that the home team deserved a penalty, 35 metres out.

In days gone by, Cliffie Hodgson would have stroked such a kick tantalisingly wide of the uprights, but Tony Fenner had the minerals to kick it straight and true for an, ultimately, fortunate win.


Duo star for rampant Clifton

National Two South
Barnes 26-50 Clifton

Harry Ascherl scored for Clifton as the league leaders made it eight wins on the bounce with another commanding victory over Barnes.

The Academy centre scored in either half, with fellow Bear Aaron Thompson also featured in an emphatic win.

Clifton ran in eight tries in total, with Henry Harper, Alexander Howman (2), Bentley Halpin and Harry Bate also on the scoresheet for Matt Salter's high-flyers.


Dings defeated at Guernsey

Tribute South West Premier
Guernsey 31-17 Dings Crusaders

Andrew Turner started in the Dings front row as they fell to defeat at the hands of Guernsey.

Tries from Matt Smith and Lewis Beer saw Dings level at 14-14 at half time and 17-17 heading into the final seven minutes. 

But the hosts pulled away late on with two unanswered tries inside the final four minutes to snatch the win.


Power scores first Weston try

Tribute South West Premier
Weston-super-Mare 40-13 Okehampton

Dylan Power scored his first try in Weston-super-Mare colours as the Seasiders took maximum points to strengthen their fourth place in the Tribute South West Premier table.

Weston led 21-nil at the break following tries from Bristol Bears Senior Academy centre Dylan Power for his first touchdown for the Seasiders, wing Huw Morgan and second row Callum Kingscott with Mackay converting all three.

The half time team talk saw a rejuvenated Okehampton take the game to their hosts. Centre Rich Friend landed a 35-metre penalty before crossing for the visitors first try. Weston hit back with Mackay adding the extras to No.8 Ben Tothill’s touchdown.

Full back Robert Fishleigh burst down the right wing to score Okes second try only for a driving lineout led to hooker Josh Mynett’s touchdown. Mackay’s touchline conversion attempt hit the far upright and bounced the wrong way.

But with Mackay now playing at inside centre, after Weston had to shuffle their back line when full back Jack Curtis went off with an ankle injury, crossed for his second try of the second which he converted from outwide to seal his memorable day.

Weston-super-Mare scorers – tries: Dylan Power, Huw Morgan, Callum Kingscott, Ben Tothill, Josh Mynett, James Mackay; cons: James Mackay (5).

Okehampton scorers - tries: Robert Fishleigh, Rich Friend: pen: Rich Friend

Match Photos courtesy of Weston Rugby/Andrew Collins


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