In the third game of this mini-series, Longlevens entertained Hartpury Bucks at the unusual time of 6.30pm on a Friday night. The weather this May has been awful, and this night proved to be no different, with the expectation of fast, flowing rugby well and truly not met.
Despite the conditions, both sides came to play, and the first quarter of an hour consisted of Longlevens being camped in the Hartpury 22. However, they were unable to convert the pressure into points, mainly due to handling errors, and not being able to secure decent possession at the lineout. This first third (the game was being played as three 30 minutes) ended 0-0, with the only winner being the weather, which had deprived both sides of chances to score.
Longlevens made 10 changes, with many of the current colts side experiencing their first taste of senior first team rugby. The young lads didn't disappoint and contained a more confident Hartpury side well, considering they now had the wind and the slope. From a lineout inside the Levens 22, Hartpury engineered and nice move, which resulted in one of their forwards diving over for an unconverted try. This infused fresh life into the contest, and Hartpury began to pressure the Levens line. Young second row Jack Cuthbert was impressing for the home side, making some inroads in the Hartpury defence, but the visitors finished the half strongest, but without managing to score again.
More changes were made for the final third, with the more experienced players coming back into the fray. However, the difference in age and fitness was beginning to show, and without the chance to scrummage or maul, it was proving difficult to stop the young students. They manged to whip the ball wide, and their winger sprinted clear to make the score 10 nil. This clearly had a disconcerting influence on the Longlevens men and the game waned, with Hartpury able to score wide for a third time, bringing the final score to 15 nil.
The game was closer than the score suggests, and Longlevens had the lion's share of possession, but 16 handling errors, and a patchy lineout meant that possession wasn't converted into points. It was pleasing to see so many colts involved though, and thefuture of rugby at Longford lane looks very bright.
Next week sees the conclusion of the Cluster Cup, and rugby for this season, and what a strange season it has been.