Blaydon 20 – Hartpury College 25

Blaydon were never too far away on the scoreboard but equally never looked like coming out on top against a side that ran it from all parts of the field and whose backs were a constant threat.

Many a Blaydon clearance was run straight back at them, and some indifferent tackling led to 2 of the Hartpury tries.

Director of rugby Micky Ward agreed that the better team had won, saying “It would have been a bit of a disservice if we had won”, adding “our defence in the first half was unacceptable”.
The visitors led from the 9th minute onwards, taking the lead with a lightning break down the right to set up a score for full-back Ruardhi McConnochie who stormed over.

A tried and trusted penalty to the corner and rolling maul move brought a response from No8 Gavin Jones but the visitors were never far away. Their centre Steven Leonard easily avoided three poor tackles and strolled in for try number 2, again converted by Mitchell Burton.
Blaydon responded once more when Phil Stewart burst into the 22 to put skipper Keith Laughlin over but right on the interval Leonard was in for his second with a devastating diagonal break.

Trailing 10-19 Blaydon tightened up in the second period and were soon back in contention through Robbie Kalbraier from another catch and drive, Andrew Baggett converting.
Significantly however the visitors gave them a taste of their own medicine, pushing them off their own scrum ball near the line. A Burton penalty resulted and Blaydon were down to 13 men for a 10 minute spell due to a yellow card and a shortage of fit props.

Baggett got it back to a 2 point deficit with a penalty but Burton was similarly on target to clinch a deserved victory for the college boys.

John Brennan