Jersey Reds produced a powerful display in scoring eight tries to finish convincing winners in their final away game of the 2020/21 season.
A Tom Williams' hat-trick in the first half was the stand-out scoring feat as the Reds were unrecognisable from the lacklustre display against Coventry the previous week and stretched their winning run at Hartpury’s home ground to five matches.
The match began at a lively pace as the home side welcomed spectators back for the first time in 15 months. Williams struck within 10 minutes, pouncing on a loose ball after Scott Van Breda and Brendan Owen attacked into the corner and then added a second thanks to a soaring catch from Brendan Cope's pinpoint cross-kick, with advantage being played.
More good approach play by Van Breda and some nifty footwork by the scorer sealed Williams’ third try after 34 minutes. In between times there had been one try for the hosts by James Williams, plus another Jersey effort from close range by Max Green, and before the half-time whistle blew Cope sprinted home after an interception to make it 7-31 at the break.
After the Reds’ three-try salvo within six minutes during the latter stages of the first half, most of Hartpury’s little remaining stuffing was knocked out a couple of minutes after the resumption as Williams returned the favour for Van Breda to score.
Scrum-half Oscar Lennon did get a second for the hosts, but solid Red defence kept Hartpury from adding to their tally until Morgan Monks crossed after 67 minutes.
The Reds made a series of changes and finished strongly with replacements Jack Macfarlane and Bader Pretorius crossing for two more tries. Pretorius added the extras to add to four earlier conversions by Cope.
The Reds made eight changes during a 16-minute spell and several of the replacements made their mark. Back row men Matti Williams and Josh Bainbridge combined for an exciting run out of defence and loan signing Will Vaughan looked combative on his debut. Two of those introduced from the bench got on the score-sheet, with hooker Jack Macfarlane finishing off a 20-metre maul and Bader Pretorius squeezing through a gap in the dying moments.
Cope added five conversions to remain the top points scorer in the Championship so far.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon paid tribute to the efforts of his team and their determination to produce a performance to mark Max Argyle’s 100th appearance. Biljon said the result partly atoned for the previous week’s poor display against Coventry, but admitted that his side owed their home supporters one ahead of the final game of the season at home to Cornish Pirates on Saturday May 29th (k-o 3pm). Tickets are available online and must be purchased in advance [LINK].
After four straight defeats during which they have conceded 192 points, Hartpury face a daunting last match when they visit the StoneX Stadium in north London to take on promotion favourites Saracens. Saracens thrashed Coventry 0-73 at Butts Park Arena on Saturday, confirming a two-legged play-off meeting against Ealing Trailfinders, who claimed a 38-15 home win over Doncaster Knights.
HARTPURY (15-9, 1-8): George Simpson (Sam Smith 70); Ervin Muric, Robbie Smith, James Williams, Ben Foley; Josh Bragman (Luke Eves h-t), Oscar Lennon (Matty Jones 60); George Porter (Conor Maguire 43), Luke Stratford (capt) (Will Crane 51), Ciaran Knight (Ashley Challenger 67), Dale Lemon (Ehize Ehizode 67), Arthur Clark, Iain Grieve (Harry Wilson 64), Joe Howard, Morgan Monks.
JERSEY REDS (15-9, 1-8): Scott Van Breda; Brendan Owen, Jack Roberts (Bader Pretorius 51), Dan Barnes, Tom Williams; Brendan Cope, Max Green (James Elliott 61); Ollie Dawe (Will Vaughan 61), Eoghan Clarke (Jack Macfarlane 61), Ciaran Parker (Jack Higgins 67), Sean O’Connor (James Scott 67), Macauley Cook, Lewis Wynne (capt) (Josh Bainbridge 51), Max Argyle (Matti Williams 51).
REFEREE: Sara Cox. Assistants: George Selwood, Nick Marshall
Half Time: 7-31
Tries: Williams 24, Lennon 46, Monks 67
Conversions: Bragman 24, Williams 67
Tries: T Williams 9, 18, 33, Green 29, Cope 35, Van Breda 43, Macfarlane 70, Pretorius 77
Conversions: Cope 9, 18, 35, 43, 77