Hartpury College v 1stXV, Sat Oct 22, 14:30, Match Preview
Ampthill travel to unbeaten league leaders Hartpury College this weekend for what will likely be their toughest away fixture of the season.
The two sides have recent history with both in National 2 South for season 2013-14 with Hartpury retaining bragging rights having won at Dillingham Park despite being 17-0 down after 20 minutes and securing promotion to National 1 as Champions with a 39-30 home win at the end of the season while last season honours were shared one home win apiece.
Hartpury College Rugby Academy was formed in 2000 with an agreement with Premiership side Gloucester who now use the college facilities as their training base.
Hartpury College RFC was founded in 2004 joining the RFU league pyramid at the bottom (level 11), having lost their first ever league game they didn’t lose again until 2009 and won eight consecutive promotions to arrive in National 2 South for season 2012-13 where they finished 3rd.
Last season, their second at level 3, they finished 2nd while this year they have a 100% record winning all 7 games played and securing 7 try bonus points. Last week they defeated Blaydon away 5-47 and are mounting a very strong challenge for promotion to the Championship.
Hartpury’s squad is augmented by Gloucester Academy contracted players, the majority of whom are former or current Hartpury students.
Last weeks defeat at home to Blackheath, 17-31, represented a low point in Ampthill’s thus far successful National 2 campaign. The first half saw both sides compete to see which could make the most mistakes, unfortunately it was the visitors who cut out the errors in the second half outscorng the hosts by 4 tries to 1. The squad will have to play at a much higher level this week or face a heavy defeat.
There are numerous changes to the squad this week:-
Up front Brett Sturgess returns at prop with Josh Walker at lock. In the backs Gavin Williams returns from concussion at scrumhalf, Joe Tarrant returns at flyhalf with Stef Jones moving to inside centre and Sam Hanks returns at outside centre. Matt Beesley, Matt Collins, Mickey Wilson and Elliot Reeder rotate to the bench.
Hartpury’s team is provisional, based on that which faced Blaydon last week as they have not published a team for this week.