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."
Gloucester-Hartpury Women take on West Park Leeds Ladies in the final of the Intermediate Cup Final on Saturday. Head Coach Susie Appleby took time out to preview the game and chat about the future for the team.
Number eight Ben Morgan admitted that the 32-14 Aviva Premiership win over Bristol on Friday evening hadn't been pretty at times, but that the win was based on everyone in the squad remaining united and working for each other.
Previewing Friday evening's local derby at Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell told the local media that Gloucester's preparations have gone well and that the whole squad is united in trying to finish the season on a high.
Speaking to GRTV this week, Acting Head Coach Jonny Bell spoke of his pleasure in the efforts and intensity in training from the squad after a tricky few weeks. The team were preparing for big games with Bristol and Cardiff in coming weeks.
Willi Heinz was understandably and visibly disappointed when he spoke to GRTV after the 27-30 home defeat to Harlequins, apologising to the home support as the game slipped away after seemingly having the game under control.
Speaking to the local media this week, Scottish centre Matt Scott spoke of the squad's determination to put in a big home performance against Harlequins, with vital points up for grabs in the hunt for a Top Six spot this Saturday (KO 3pm)
In the aftermath of the Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell was able to look forward to this weekend's European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final against Cardiff Blues (Kingsholm, kick off 8:05pm).