An outstanding performance against the renowned Hartpury College that on a different day could’ve resulted in a win.
By Sam Hewick
Hartpury College v Blues
After a long bus trip and arriving late Worthing had 15 minutes to warm up after changing time. Led by Josh Wand the blue squad started the game at a frenetic intensity. This first 10 minutes laid down the level to be expected throughout the rest of the game. This first 10 minutes saw Worthing defending for the majority with some excellent defence by Jack Lake, Alfie Dunk and Sam Bath. This high pressure defence resulting in a penalty enabled Worthing to relieve the pressure through an excellent clearance kick by Jesse Beecham. This allowed worthing to begin their attack and after some fantastic carries from Taylor Morris and Jacob Mee Worthing won a penalty in front of the posts, Jordan Gibson duly converted, 0-3.
The first half carried on with a similar vain, with Hartpury starving Worthing of possession, with relentless attack after attack being stopped by Joe Mills and Jack Lake. The defence didn’t break, brilliant cover tackles on the last man by Noah Peskett and Jimmy Evans stopped certain tries. Unfortunately at the end of second half the defence cracked with Hartpury scoring from a driving maul. Converted 7-3 down end of the first half.
Hartpury started the second half strong and scored very shortly after half time with another driving maul. Unconverted worthing were 12-3 down staring a tough defeat in the face. Having struggled to get and retain possession in the first half Worthing changed tactic and tap and go all penalties outside their own 10M line, the tactic paid off. Wit quick tap and goes all over the pitch Worthing began getting their big ball carries over the gain line, Akeem Lawal, Jordan Gibson and Jordan Harkin came to the fore, with some thunderous carries. This led to a Worthing being camped on the Hartpury line, and when pushing for the try Hartpury intercepted and ran the length to score under the posts, 19-3 down, gutting. Although with a sense that the momentum had shifted and Worthing were now in control, Josh Wand rallied his troops and back Worthing went again. A scrum in the centre of the pitch was wonderfully wheeled by Joe Fife and Alex Hrydynskyy to allow Jacob Mee offloading brilliantly to Alfie Dunk to power over the gain line. After this Jesse Beecham released his backs which ended with Ryan McCulloch being tackled in the corner, with this Jesse spotted a space on blindside took the ball and dived over in the corner, try. Conversion was missed 19-8 down.
A brilliant restart take by Taylor Morris allowed a good platform for Worthing to clear their lines, but feeling the momentum was with them, Jesse released his backs and after some soft hands and offloading by Jordan Harkin and Sam Bath, Ryan McCulloch was released down the wing. The resulting ruck 20m was cleared efficiently and after a few big carries by Jack Lake and Jacob Mee, Josh Hunt darted at a ruck, stepped the full back and scored, Converted by Gibson, 19-15, with10 minutes to play. Worthing had the momentum and after another goods restart take by Joe Mills, Worthing attacked once again, releasing Jimmy Evans and Noah Peskett down the right hand side. After some more phases of play and Worthing crashing through the Hartpury gain line, Worthing won a penalty and kicked to the corner, line out, 5M out, 4mins to play, surely this is it. Unfortunately a mistake at the line out allowed Hartpury to clear their lines and see out the final minutes and hold on for the win.
A rather anti-climatic end to a a brilliant second half of attacking rugby. The first 10 minutes of the match laid down the foundations for a wonderfully gutsy performance, interwoven with some sublime rugby. On a different day with a different bounce of the ball here, and a different decision there, this would’ve been a win against the biggest rugby playing institute in the country. We’ll done boys.
MOM: Jack Lake