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."
Henry Purdy, a first half replacement for Charlie Sharples, was amongst the try scorers in the 64-19 victory over Aviron Bayonnais on Saturday evening and told GRTV that it was a professional performance, one the team are happy with.
Gloucester's win in Treviso last week means that they need a bonus point win against Bayonne on Saturday evening to secure a home quarter-final (kick off 8pm), but Tim Taylor wants the team to focus on the performance first and foremost.
Billy Burns and Man of the Match Richard Hibbard spoke to GRTV after the 41-0 win in Treviso, on a day when preparations weren't ideal. They felt the team's attitude was key and also praised the travelling support.
Following the conclusion of the Stade Francais vs Harlequins game today, round six is complete and the quarter-finalists in the European Rugby Challenge Cup are now known with Gloucester set to welcome the Cardiff Blues to Kingsholm.
Knowing a bonus point win would secure a home quarter-final, Gloucester completed their European mission in some style on Saturday evening, sweeping aside a spirited but outgunned Aviron Bayonnais scoring 10 tries on their way to a 64-19 victory.