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."
Speaking to the local media this week, back row flanker Jacob Rowan said that he is excited for the challenge at the Ricoh Arena this Sunday, and added that the players know the responsibility is theirs to deliver against the league leaders.
Ben Morgan was on media duty this week, and as Gloucester prepare for Sunday's trip to Wasps, the number eight is looking forward to see Gloucester go toe-to-toe with another of the Aviva Premiership's front runners.
Tom Marshall scored his first Gloucester try in the 31-23 win over Saracens on Friday evening and was named Man of the Match. Talking to GRTV, he praised the forwards for setting the tone on the night.
Matt Scott was on media duty this week, and the Scottish international spoke about the benefit of having a full week of training with his club mates and the determination to get back to performing well against Saracens this Friday evening.
After the disappointment of last weekend's performance at Leicester, Director of Rugby David Humphreys told GRTV that he expects a big response from Gloucester in Friday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Saracens (kick off 7:45pm).
Gloucester battled bravely against Wasps on Sunday, but it was a case of taking chances at the Ricoh Arena. Gloucester didn't make the most of theirs while Wasps did, and that proved to be the difference.
Gloucester were competitive for long periods at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday afternoon, but were left to rue a host of missed scoring opportunities throughout as Wasps hit back to earn a 35-22 Aviva Premiership win.
Gloucester's Ciaran Knight made his first start at tighthead prop, Henry Walker made his first appearance as a second half replacement and Alex Seville also featured as England U20s might it three from three in the U20s Six Nations with a 46-0 win over Italy in Darlington on Friday night.