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, John Afoa described the hard work that the Cherry and White have been putting in and that he is fighting fit ready for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final clash with Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester Rugby face Exeter Chiefs this Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final, and Charlie Sharples, who starts at full back is relishing the challenge of the big Kingsholm occasion.
Gloucester meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Following the 29-26 loss to Harlequins, club captain Billy Twelvetrees spoke of his disappointment that the Cherry and Whites were unable to cash in on the home side's indiscipline and lose a lead on Saturday afternoon.
Number eight Gareth Evans admitted to a collective feeling of frustration as Gloucester lost narrowly at Harlequins on Saturday, but insisted that there are plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter.
Gloucester travel to the Stoop on Saturday afternoon to take on Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership. The Cherry and Whites make just two changes from last weekend's win over Connacht as they seek consistency and continuity in their play as Nick Walshe told the local media this week.
The Gloucester Rugby Ticket office can advise that the club's initial allocation of tickets for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final has sold out. However, the club has secured an additional allocation of tickets from EPCR which will go on sale on Monday.
Following Saturday evening's exciting European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Exeter Chiefs, the Ticket Office at Kingsholm will be open on Sunday from 11am to 3pm for Club Members to purchase tickets for the Final.
Gloucester Rugby qualified for their first European final since 2006 as they defeated the in-form Exeter Chiefs by 30 points to 19 in a thrilling semi-final at Kingsholm on Saturday evening. The club photographer caught the best of the action.
Recent meetings between these two teams have often been thrillers, and this was no exception. It went down to the final few minutes, but Gloucester produced the goods when it mattered to qualify for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final, beating Exeter 30-19.