University of South Wales Men’s 1st 30-10 Hartpury College Men’s 2nd
Date: Wednesday 22 November 2017 (14:00)
Venue: Sport Park, Treforest
University of South Wales Men’s 1st made it four wins in four after beating Hartpury University Centre Men’s 2ndin terrible weather at the Sport Park.
USW’s Rhodri Smith kicked off the match as the rain lashed down on the already greasy surface. The conditions didn’t seem to hamper the home side going forward though, as centre Eddie Francis showed with a trademark burst through the middle of the Hartpury defence, but last ditch defending stopped the home side from making the perfect start.
The theme of the opening 10 minutes was chances made and chances thrown away for the Welsh team. Then some clever interchanges between the USW backline cleared the way for winger Marcus Jones to burst down the touch line and dive over for a try in the corner. A tricky touch line conversion from fullback Smith was pulled to the right though.
Quarter of an hour into the first half and Hartpury finally got their hands on some much needed ball, but a sloppy line-out from the away side lead to an infringement at the ruck which gave referee Craig Evans no choice but to award USW a penalty. A superb kick into the corner from fly half Foard Cooksley gave the home side the platform to attack the Hartpury try-line.
After seven phases the pressure told with Pontypridd tighthead prop, Joe Popple, crashing over the line to give his side a 10-0 lead with Smith again missing his conversion. From the restart, an aerial ping-pong battle ensued with both full backs exchanging kicks before a dropped ball forward by the Hartpury 15 gave the home side good field position.
From a dominant scrum, back row forward Alun Lawrence exchanged quick passes with prop Connor Lewis who managed to release pacy winger Curtis Ayling who raced to the line. For the third time the conversion was missed by Smith.
With 10 minutes to go until half time the scoreline seemed to flatter the away side with missed chances from USW. Hartpury soon made them pay with a 45 metre penalty kick at goal sailing between the posts and a 40 metre sprint to the line along with a well struck conversion closed the deficit to just five points at half time.
The home side started the second half brightly in dark conditions and scored the first points of the second half through a penalty kick from fly-half Cooksley. With 20 minutes left, USW rang the changes and it was one of the substitutes who crossed for USW’s fourth try. Josh Haywood combined well with the impressive Sion Edwards to scoot under the posts to secure a much needed bonus point with Cooksley adding the extras.
The Gloucestershire outfit looked dead and buried and to make matters worse, they quickly conceded again. Great work down the right hand side from scrum half Jamie Hill created space for winger Marcus Jones to score his second of the game. Hartpury seemed outraged with the decision to award the try as referee Craig Evans missed a clear foot in touch from the USW flyer.
The decision to award the Welsh side’s fifth try only made the away side more frustrated with unnecessary scuffles between both players threatening to hamper an enthralling match. The win moves USW above Hartpury in the league.
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