AFTER eight months of gruelling University competition, the hard work, dedication and professionalism of the Hartpury players was rewarded by an outstanding 27-14 victory over UWIC in the Championship Final at Twickenham.
Both teams came out strongly to a roar of loyal supporters. UWIC opened the scoring with a penalty just five minutes into the game but after 15 minutes, a beautiful 40 metre break from Tom Jarvis created space and the Gloucester A League player scored close to the sticks.
Skipper Tim Stevenson landed the conversion and after 22 minutes he kicked a penalty to strengthen the lead. Hartpury were now into their stride and playing the solid game they have produced throughout the season.
However a UWIC penalty just before half-time brought the score to 10-6 and the game was still in the balanced.
The second-half began with an intense period of play with both teams trying to stamp their dominance on the game. But it was Hartpury who finally won control with tries in quick succession from Daniel Hondo and Pete Swatkins - Swatkins scoring a brilliant solo try down the right-hand side, beating seven UWIC players on the way to the line.
Stevenson successfully converted both tries and then sealed the victory with a 44 metre penalty from the touch line. UWIC hit back with their first try of the match in the final minutes of the game, but despite playing exceptionally well themselves, it was not enough against a highly skilled Hartpury side.
Speaking after the victory, Rugby Academy Director, Allan Lewis, said: "Words cannot convey how proud I am of my lads. They played with enthusiasm, style and grace. I'm so delighted for them and all the support team who live and breath the Rugby Academy."
Hartpury College Principal, Malcolm Wharton added:
"This is an immensely proud day for me. Great credit not only goes to Allan Lewis and his team, but also previous Academy Directors Sean Holley, Andrew Stanley and Geraint John and all the lads that have played in the Academy since it was established in partnership with Gloucester Rugby in 2000. We've realised our vision and it feels fantastic."
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
After a series of contract announcements last week, hooker Richard Hibbard is the latest Gloucester Rugby player to commit to a new contract at the club and told GRTV how much he enjoys playing in the Cherry and White of Gloucester.
A try scorer in the 36-18 Aviva Premiership win over Wasps at Kingsholm on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted that Gloucester would enjoy the moment but can't get too carried away. The team got what they deserved but the winger wants these performances to be more frequent.
England Head Coach Eddie Jones has made two changes to his side to play Australia in Saturday's final match of the Old Mutual Wealth Series at Twickenham Stadium (kick-off 2.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2). Jonny May lines up on the left wing.