by Ben Lovell-Smith
A battle-hardened Cardiff fell at the last hurdle against Hartpury to lose 34-22 as their relegation dogfight with Northumbria continues in BUCS Super Rugby. With just three games left of the season, Cardiff were hoping that they could pick up their first win since October against Hartpury, who they defeated at the beginning of the season. However, it was not to be, as the away side travelled back over the Severn Bridge with all the points.
Hartpury took the early lead from the tee, before Cardiff levelled in the opening period of the match to make the scores 3-3.
It was Hartpury who would lay the first punch. From an attacking scrum in the Cardiff 22-metre, the left wing McNab scythed through the defence to score, courtesy of an intricate set play.
Prepared for a dogfight, the Cardiff forwards seemed to embrace the pitch conditions. After retrieving the ball deep in the Hartpury half, the pack edged onwards and with good patience they crossed the line.
The topsy turvy nature of the game continued, as both sides exchanged tries again before half time. Hartpury struck first with clever tight play, as rampaging openside Everitt crossed down the left. With the last play of the half, Cardiff pulled the game back again. Indiscipline gave Cardiff a kick to the corner, which the forwards welcomed with open arms. After a number of phases they were over the line. Ed Dunford made the play of the half as he converted from wide out, battling against strong wind.
Hartpury began to hit their rhythm after half-time, their structure and diligence gave Cardiff’s outside backs all sorts of issues. Smart play from the Hartpury blinside, Howard, broke the line as he picked through the centre of the ruck to put outside centre Cole Swannack in for the try.
However, Cardiff again would not lie down as Hartpury failed to exit from kick off. A fine demonstration of second row play by Griff Evans, who charged down the box kick and grounded the ball to level the scores again.
Cardiff’s match fell apart in the final twenty minutes, as they repeatedly failed to exit. Pinning Cardiff within their half, Hartpury were given a penalty to take the lead. In the swirling wind, the kick hit the post. As Cardiff once again aimlessly kicked down field, Hartpury counter attacked, punishing Cardiff with strong attacking verve and crossing the line.
Hartpury put the dagger in the Cardiff heart as they scored with the last play of the match to take a bonus point, whilst ensuring that a losing bonus point for Cardiff was out of reach. With the match finishing 34-22.