Redruth's fightback in vain as home record goes
Redruth 19 Hartpury College 26
REDRUTH finally lost their unbeaten home record this season after giving themselves a mountain to climb with a poor first half performance against an impressive Hartpury side.
After starting well the Reds fell behind to a Craig Jackson penalty and then conceded a try as former Exeter Chiefs wing Sean Marsden set up flanker Liam Wilkinson to race in at the corner. Bad then turned to worse for the home side two minutes later as Billy Burns chipped through and Jackson won the foot race for a second try.
Two further penalties dispatched by the impressive Jackson kept the scoreboard ticking over and the Reds, disrupted by the early loss of centre Steve Evans to injury, took until first half stoppage time to find their feet with a try of their own.
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Greg Goodfellow took a quick tap penalty inside his own 22 and raced 60 metres before slipping a pass to Lewis Vinnicombe to run in under the posts. Paul Thirlby converted to cut the arrears to 21-7 at the break but Hartpury added their third try early in the second half.
Wilkinson ran in his second touchdown after fine work by Gloucester dual-registered Number 8 Gareth Evans and it looked as if the contest was over. The men in red shirts disagreed.
Finally the home pack found some extra forward gears and a level of intensity to worry the Students and a series of attacking five metre scrums and repeated penalties was finally rewarded with a penalty try converted by Thirlby.
A tempestuous final ten minutes saw yellow cards for Hartpury's skipper Chris Fortey for a technical offence and replacement hooker Dylan Rodrigues for a spear tackle, while Murray Westren's 75th minute try had the crowd on the edge of their seats. But Hartpury held on and Redruth will have to fight to the wire to secure a place in the end of season play-offs.
Director of Rugby Adrian Edwards admitted that his team were disappointed with their display despite a strong second half performance.
"We gave ourselves far too much to do," he said. "We were 21-0 down before we fought back and they were a very good team. We gave them too much time and space and they crossed the gain line every time. They effectively bossed the game and were better than us."
He continued: "At half time we all said that we had to face up more and start running our patterns, which we hadn't done in the first half because their defence was so good and we couldn't get into them."
"We just needed to start carrying the ball straighter and more strongly and once we did that we got into the game."
Edwards conceded that the early loss of player-coach Steve Evans with a leg injury did hamper his side and it took them a while to adjust.
"He's an experienced player and a big ball carrier who all the boys look up to. It took us a little while to re-adjust and they got a couple of tries in that time."
"The boys are all really disappointed at losing their unbeaten home record and the fact that they let Hartpury build up such a head of steam. But the positives are that we are still in the top three, played some really good stuff and can look forward to another really big game at Canterbury this weekend."