Hartpury College beat rivals Oaklands College 20-10 to win the AASE Championship Final in what a breathless 70 minutes of rugby at Allianz Park on Wednesday evening.
Both sides began the match looking test each other’s defensive resolve with either side spreading the play at every opportunity. It made for a highly entertaining opening to the game, with both sets of players showcasing their talent with the ball in hand.
As the game went into the 18th minute it was Hartpury who would draw first blood with an extremely well worked try; Will Munroe showed electric pace to sneak into the corner despite the attentions of the incoming Nathan Earle. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
Oaklands continued to test Hartpury’s rearguard in first 35 minutes, with Nick Tompkins and Earle continuingly threatening their defence.
In the 25th minute Hartpury’s outside centre Tom Griffiths was sin-binned for a professional foul at the breakdown, but Oaklands couldn’t capitalise on their numerical advantage as Hartbury maintained their 5-0 lead into the break.
The second half began much like the first; with the game being contested at a furious pace. Straight away Oaklands tried to pin back the Gloucestershire side, by spreading the ball at every opportunity, and it was when the ball was spread wide that Oaklands would get their first try of the game.
A scorching break from George Perkins gave the home side prime field position deep in the Hartpury 22; and after patient play that saw Oaklands recycle the ball for seven phases a penalty was eventually given.
From the resulting penalty Connor Reynolds picked up a sloppy pass that evaded the Hartpury defence to sneak in and score to level up the game.
Oaklands doubled their score when after an initial storming line break by Hayden Stringer; it was Tom Webb who would crash over after two phases. The conversion was missed.
Just as Oaklands were beginning to establish a foothold in the game they were reduced to 14 men. From the resulting penalty Hartpury added three points to reduce Oaklands’ lead to two points.
Hartpury made their numerical advantage count and it came as no surprise when Tom Griffiths gave them the lead in the 65th minute to after a concerted spell of pressure on the Oaklands’ line.
The Gloucestershire College sealed the victory in the dying minutes with a try from Ellis Genge.