The Reds claimed a place in the knockout stages of the Championship Cup by scoring five tries in what was an eventually comfortable win.
The quarter-final on the weekend of February 22 could yet be played at Stade Santander International, but the Reds would probably need a win at Newcastle next weekend and hope other results go their way in order to claim home advantage.
The match began with plenty of mistakes by both sides, and only one act of scoring – Nathan Chamberlain’s eighth-minute penalty. It took the Reds some time to work their way into scoring positions, with some lively charges by James Wayland, making his first start, and Charlie Beckett almost leading to a try for Luc Jones.
Eventually the dam broke with two tries in four minutes. Auguy Slowik popped a cheeky grubber through for Alex Morgan to collect and score his third try in as many games since joining the Reds on loan from Gloucester, then Brendan Owen charged through the middle and fed Slowik for the score.
The visitors worked their way back into the game thanks to a second penalty by Chamberlain and then the fly-half showed his running skills, making considerable ground before the ball was fed to Joe Margetts to cross with the last play of the half.
The hosts couldn’t have started the second half any better, with Rodney Iona, Morgan and Slowik setting up skipper Josh Bainbridge for a try within 60 seconds. But Hartpury again forced their way back to a one-point deficit when Aaron Hinkley powered over from close range after a series of attacking phases.
There were plenty of attacking play from both sides, with wingers Morgan and Owen of Reds and Jacob Morris or Hartpury looking especially dangerous, but eventually it was a two-try salvo from a hooker that was enough to seal the win. Jack Macfarlane popped up on the wing to dive over, and then found himself in the more customary role of steering the Reds’ maul across the line.
“I’ll take five points every time, and we were very good in parts, but we also left a lot of scores out there,” said Reds director of rugby Harvey Biljon. “I was also disappointed with the scores we let in, so we will need to tighten up in defence.
“Hartpury did well to stay in the game, and you have to give them credit for that.”
After taking on Newcastle and their 11-game winning streak next Saturday in the final match of the cup pool stages, the Reds will close 2019 with a home Championship tie against London Scottish at the Stade on Saturday December 21st, with kick-off at 2pm.
/*pics – Rich Chapman*/
JERSEY REDS: Slowik (Van Dam 52); Morgan, Newey, Iona (Penberthy 61), Owen; Cope, Jones (Homer 52); Wayland (Godfrey 52), Macfarlane (Dolly 65), Atalifo (Alexis 62), Beckett, Hallam-Eames (Bartle 63), Upfield, Bainbridge (c) (Joyce 61), Argyle.
HARTPURY UNIVERSITY: Wilcox; Morris (Everard 70), Reeves, Margetts, Goatley (Henry 59); Chamberlain, Cochrane (Carter 65); Merrey (Murphy 65), Cutting (Crane 52), Challenger (Gibson 52), Jubb, Safe, Hinkley (Preece 65), Clementson (c) (Qera 59), Nagle-Taylor.
REFEREE: Alex Thomas. Assistants: Gregg Dawson, Lionel Spooner
Half Time: 14-13
Star Man: Brendan Owen (Jersey Reds)
Tries: Morgan 27, Slowik 31, Bainbridge 41, Macfarlane 60, 64
Conversions: Cope 27, 31, 41, 60
Tries: Margetts 39, Hinkley 46
Conversions: Chamberlain 40, 46
Penalties: Chamberlain 8, 32