Hartpury move up the table
The first and perhaps most important thing to take from Hartpury’s 14-11 win over London Scottish is when we look at the league table. With victory today Hartpury moved 8 points clear of London Scottish in the Greene King IPA Championship. As well as this they have also leapfrogged Richmond and drawn level on points with Nottingham who face a difficult Bedford Blues side next week. This also means that Hartpury now sit only 7 points away from 6th placed Jersey and all but secures them more Championship rugby next season.
Randall pulls the strings
Secondly, Hartpury number 9 and England U20 international Harry Randall was absolutely pivotal for the home side. In his first game on return from injury Randall set the tone of the game from a Hartpury perspective from the opening moments. Hartpury looked exceptionally strong in the breakdown and gave Randall the perfect platform to express himself from 9. His link up play with Jacob Perry at 10 was very impressive and Randall’s good service allowed Perry to kick the ball well for Hartpury in a positional sense.
Scottish poor from the lineout
Another key point from the game was the advantage at the lineout that Hartpury seemed to have over Scottish. Both in terms of actual strength in winning the ball but more so after the catch, when forming the maul Hartpury seemed to be in a much stronger position. The reason I say this is that following the catch, the Scottish pack seemed content to maul from a very vertical/stood up position which doesn’t enable them to use their legs to drive in the same way that they could from more of a scrummage position that Hartpury were adopting. This difference in technique allowed Hartpury on countless occasions to gain yards mauling even if they didn’t have the ball in hand from a lineout.
Sharp nearly saved Scottish…
One of the key changes in the game was the inclusion of Jake Sharp at 10 for London Scottish around the 60-minute mark. Sharp brought an urgency to Scottish’s attacking play which had not been present in the opening 40 minutes or even the first half of the second half. His quick handling and opportune kicking styles which the Championship had seen for years at Bedford Blues completely changed the dynamics of the somewhat scrappy encounter at Hartpury.
Perry brilliant with the boot
The last important note is the performance of Hartpury fly-half Jacob Perry. Perry was fantastic off the tee for Hartpury, he missed one kick all day and that was from great distance and slightly in to the breeze. But as well as this, what impressed me more was the difference in class of positional kicking from the two sides. Perry was finding touch with every opportunity and when he was kicking from penalties he wasn’t greedy but ensured he made touch on each occasion. It was also Perry’s penalty kick that put Hartpury beyond a single score of Scottish, which proved crucial with only a few minutes to spare.