- St Paul's maintain winning record by downing Hartpury
- “We just weren’t clinical enough” – Hartpury skipper Joe Batley
St Paul’s Catholic College brought Hartpury’s four-year unbeaten run in AASE competition to an end this week with a superb 24-16 over the Gloucester Rugby-affiliated outfit at Sunbury on Wednesday evening.
Though Hartpury’s powerful pack helped them to control the first quarter in terms of territory and possession, only some desperate defending keeping them out.
With the game drifting towards half-time, an electric run by Harry Lightfoot-Brown almost resulted in a try for St Paul’s – play being brought back for a forward pass close to the line.
But the hosts kept the pressure on, and scrum half Connor Murphy and burrowed over from close range after Hartpury had infringed.
St.Paul’s second try was a piece of individual genius. Elusive wing Cameron Cowell spotted a gap between two defenders, and gathered his own grubber kick to canter under the posts for a crucial score. Although a Cai Little penalty kept the visitors in touch, Hartpury went into the break somewhat shell-shocked.
Murphy and Little exchanged a few penalties in the second half, but the decisive moment came when St Paul’s hooker Ollie Adams crashed over after a strongly driven maul by the home side.
Little scored a late consolation try for Hartpury but St Paul’s were not to be denied.
Afterwards, Hartpury skipper Joe Batley rued his team’s inability to captialise on their early pressure.
“We just weren’t clinical enough,” he said. “We should have got some points on the board in those first ten minutes. As the game went on, they got more hungry for it and we died off.”
Ryan Bifield of St Paul's added: “They brought everything we expected and more – they’re a great side. They’ve gone 40-odd games without losing, so to beat them feels amazing.”
There were two more epic encounters in the southern league on Wednesday. First, Truro College scored a try after 16 phases through Harrison Cully to beat Filton College 14-10 on the final play of the game.
Truro’s head of rugby Marek Churcher said: “We played into the wind in the first half, and although we were losing 10-0 at half time, I thought it was a small victory going into the second half with the wind behind us. We really upped the intensity from there.”
In the final Southern league game, Henley held off a late surge from Ivybridge to win their first game of the season 24-22. They scored four tries through Craig Parker, Jackson Burton, Jack Willis and Noah Jarvis.
Henley head coach Danny Batty reflected: “We're starting to take shape now and apart from the last quarter where our game management was poor, I was really pleased.”
In the northern conference, two unbeaten sides – Gosforth and Prince Henry’s – met in Northumbria. Prince Henry’s proved to be too strong, running out 48-18 winners and scoring seven tries through Nick Rawsthorne, Max Wright, Sam Allan, Josh Bainbridge, Max Green, Tom Burridge and Dan Tai.
Head Coach Andy Rock said: “I’m happy that the boys overcame a difficult period at the start against a determined Gosforth side and eventually put together some very good passages of play.
“There are various bits to improve but it was exciting to see how much pace the lads played with and the back line really did look dangerous in attack.”
Myerscough won their second game in a row on Wednesday, following up last week’s win over Moulton an impressive 29-13 win against AASE League against last season’s finalists Oaklands. Flanker Adam McCarthy scoring a hat trick along the way.
In the final Northern League fixture, the two sides yet to register a win, Moulton and Worcester Sixth Form College, met for a game that saw the Northampton side run out 32-10 winners.
For video interviews from St Paul's defeat of Hartpury, head to inattheside's YouTube channel.